What is Social-Emotional Development?

Social-emotional development is a child’s ability to understand the feelings of others, control their own feelings and behaviors, and get along with peers. In order for children to attain the basic skills they need such as cooperation, following directions, demonstrating self-control and paying attention, they must have social-emotional skills. Feelings of trust, confidence, pride, friendship, affection and humor are all a part of a child’s social-emotional development. A child’s positive relationship with trusting and caring adults is the key to successful social and emotional development.

Social and emotional development involves the acquisition of a set of skills. Key among them are the ability to:

  • Identify and understand one’s own feelings

  • Accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others

  • Manage strong emotions and their expressions in a constructive manner

  • Regulate one’s own behavior

  • Develop empathy for others

  • Establish and sustain relationships

Each of these skills develop on their own timetable and build upon one another. The foundation of social-emotional development begins in infancy. A two-month-old infant is soothed and smiles at the voice of an adult. When the caregiver talks to the child, he/she will fixate on the face of the loved one. Being able to read your child's cues and attending to them from the day they are born starts the creation of social-emotional development in your child. You are creating a secure, trusting and loving relationship with your child. ACP has adopted a resource called The BASICS to help provide our families with information, activities, and tools from which to learn and grow!


What are the Basics? Science shows that 80% of brain growth happens by the age of three! Beginning from birth, young brains develop like little muscles, getting bigger and stronger the more you and your family interact with your child. The Basics are five fun, simple, and powerful ways to help all our children aged 0-3 grow to be happy, well-adjusted and smart. Do all of the Basics every day to help your child become the amazing person you know they can be.

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Babies and toddlers thrive when their world feels loving, safe, and predictable. When you show your love, you will help them develop a sense of security and self-control. Resources: 0-12 month Handout / 12-36 month Handout / Video



Children learn language from the moment they are born. Connect with them by talking, singing, and pointing. Resources: 0-12 month Handout / 12-36 month Handout / Video



Every child’s brain is wired for math. Talk about numbers, shapes, and patterns as you go about your routines together and watch your child learn to love math. Resources: 0-12 month Handout / 12-36 month Handout / Video

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Children are like scientists who love making discoveries. Pay attention to what interests your child. When you encourage their curiosity, you're helping them develop to their fullest potential. Resources: 0-12 month Handout / 12-36 month Handout / Video

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Reading turns kids into confident thinkers, and children become readers in the lap of their parents. Make books a regular part of your relationship from the very beginning. Resources: 0-12 month Handout / 12-36 month Handout / Video

Additional Resources