What is early childhood social and emotional education?

Children from birth are expert communicators and are capable of experiencing and expressing a wide range of emotions. Through their positive interactions with caregivers, they learn to feel good about themselves and enjoy interacting with others. They also learn how to manage their feelings and communicate effectively to meet their needs.

As babies grow into toddlers, they can handle more things on their own, but they still need the guidance and support of their caregivers. Children want to please adults but they also want to be themselves. They learn by imitating others and will build their confidence by helping with everyday experiences such as cooking, cleaning or helping with shopping. They will also adapt their behavior based on their caregivers’ responses as they are learning to deal with conflict to solve problems through their relationships with the most significant adults in their lives.

Young children develop their social and emotional skills through a wide network of social relationships, including other children and adults. Supported by their increased language, thinking, and planning skills, children in school-age children are better able to wait for things they want, to negotiate solutions to everyday problems, and make decisions for themselves with others.

Children’s social and emotional skills are developing all the time, but these skills can develop differently in each child. They benefit from lots of opportunities to learn and practice.There are many facets to social and emotional learning.

Social and emotional development

Social and emotional development in the early years

From birth to school age is the period of greatest growth and development. The first years of life is a time to start walking, say the first words and have the first contact with the world. Furthermore, through relationships with others, children will build expectations about the world and the people around them.

In the early years children will be developing:

  • A sense of self including feeling good about themselves and others
  • Social skills to get along with others in life
  • Emotional skills such as recognizing, expressing and managing a wide range of feelings

These early skills are very important as they form a foundation for continued development in children and will affect your mental health, your emotional well-being, now and in the future.

Why it is important

Social and emotional learning is about learning to manage feelings, manage friendships and solve problems. These insights are essential for supporting emotional well-being and positive mental health. Social and emotional skills promote children’s ability to cope and help prevent mental health problems. Children who have developed social and emotional skills find it easier for them to manage their emotions, relating to others, resolving conflicts, and having good self-esteem and relationships with others.

Research shows that children’s learning is influenced by a number of social and emotional factors. If emotions and socialization are not worked well, then the following capacities would be affected:

  • The confidence that children have about their abilities
  • The effectiveness with which are able to control their behavior
  • Organization and concentration
  • Effectiveness in solving problems
  • Empathy
  • Understanding
  • Responsibilities
  • Emotional control