Social-Emotional Development

What is Social and Emotional Health? 

Social-emotional development includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others (Cohen and others 2005).

The core features of emotional development include the ability to identify and understand one’s own feelings, to accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others, to manage strong emotions and their expression in a constructive manner, to regulate one’s own behavior, to develop empathy for others, and to establish and maintain relationships. (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child 2004, 2)

Infants experience, express, and perceive emotions before they fully understand them. In learning to recognize, label, manage, and communicate their emotions and to perceive and attempt to understand the emotions of others, children build skills that connect them with family, peers, teachers, and the community. These growing capacities help young children to become competent in negotiating increasingly complex social interactions, to participate effectively in relationships and group activities, and to reap the benefits of social support crucial to healthy human development and functioning.

Healthy social-emotional development for infants and toddlers unfolds in the context of positive ongoing relationships with familiar, nurturing adults. Young children are particularly attuned to social and emotional stimulation. 

Social and emotional health is a child’s growing ability to: 

• Form strong relationships with others 

• Express and manage emotions 

• Explore the world around them and problem-solve 

Social and emotional skills are as important as knowing numbers, letters, and shapes.  Infants and toddlers  need relationships with loving adults to learn these skills. When children have this healthy foundation, they are more likely to:

• make friends 

• follow directions 

• express emotions 

• solve problems 

• focus on tasks 

Please feel free to contact your team's School Social Worker and Infant Mental Health Specialist - with any questions or concerns about your child's social-emotional development. 

East Region - Beverly Davidson, LMSW and IMH-E (III)

West Region - Rebecca Espitia, LMSW and IMH-E (III)


Information excerpted from:

Social Emotional Health Fact Sheet