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Social and emotional development: Where our kids need help, and where they don't

Babies are born communicators. They are capable of experiencing and expressing a wide range of emotions. They can laugh up to 300 times a day!

Through their many positive interactions with family and educators, they learn to feel good about themselves and to enjoy relating with others. When growing up, they also gradually learn how to manage a range of feelings and to communicate effectively to have their needs met.

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

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 behaviour, to develop empathy for others, and to establish and maintain relationships.

This path to building emotional intelligence is largely one that a young person will benefit most from walking independently. However, that isn't to say they don't need crucial help staying on track.

As babies grow into toddlers and later pre-schoolers, they can manage more things by themselves but still need guidance and support from their caregivers.

Toddlers want to please adults and also to be themselves. They do this by imitating others and build their self confidence by ‘helping’ during everyday experiences. They also adapt their behaviour according to their caregivers’ responses and learning ways to cope with conflict and to solve problems through their relationships with significant adults in their lives.

Experiences with family members and teachers provide an opportunity for young children to learn about social relationships and emotions through exploration and predictable interactions.

Professionals working in early childcare can support the social-emotional development of infants and toddlers in various ways.

This can include interacting directly with young children, communicating with families, arranging the physical space in the care environment, helping children learn through visual cues, sharing stories and songs, plus planning and implementing a strong curriculum.

Pre-school aged children develop their social and emotional skills through a wider network of social relationships, including those with other adults and children.

Supported by increased language, thinking and planning capabilities, pre-schoolers are better at being patient for things they want, negotiating solutions to everyday problems and making decisions both for themselves and as a team.

Reading stories that contain a strong moral compass and a range of emotions provides a platform for discussion. It is a great way for parents and educators to connect with children while increasing their development.

'Birth-to-school' age is the period of greatest growth and development, the most formative, some might say.

These early childhood years are not only a time for taking first steps or for saying first words, they are also when children first build expectations about their world and the people in it.

They develop:

  • A sense of self, including feeling good about themselves and what they can do.

  • Social skills to get along in life with others.

  • Emotional skills such as recognising, expressing and managing a wide range of feelings.

The Early Years and these first skills are very important as they form the foundations for children’s ongoing development and affect their mental health and wellbeing, now and into the future.

How you assist in these formative years as a parent, educator, centre or professional is crucial.

The team at Imagineland have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the formative years of children and especially in the area of social and emotional development.

They can assist you as a caregiver and provide resources that help you develop children through learning.

Imagineland stories ensure children are building on the development of the social and emotional realms. Having a moral to each story introduces the concepts of sense of self, social skills with one another and the emotions that impact in different scenarios.

Be sure to check out the Imagineland stories and all the other fantastic resources available at



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