8 Factors That Influence Children’s Social And Emotional Development

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While it is much easier to determine the physical growth of your kids with few milestones, the early years of your kid can also be determined through social and emotional developmental milestones.

The role of the two major developments – social and emotional – is very important in every child’s life. It acts as a basic foundation in their life when they grow up. This foundation helps your child handle his or her personal feelings, understand the feelings of others, respect other’s thoughts, and make a positive interaction with others.

Definition Of Emotional Development In Children:

Emotional learning begins at a young age and the learning grows with their age. In infancy, infants express their feelings through non-verbal communication and depend on caregivers to recognize their cues. Their expressions are related to their ability to regulate their emotions.

Emotional expression is closely related to both social and cultural influences of family and the surroundings. A child’s relationship with the caretaker gives it the ability to express both positive and negative emotions in a socially and culturally acceptable manner.

[ Read: Environmental Factors Affecting Child Development ]

From Baby To Adulthood: Overview Of The Stages Of Social Emotional Development In Children:

The development of social and emotional skills is extremely important for your kid.

      • It helps him behave in an appropriate way later, gives a good understanding about the life he lives and helps him gain control during his transition stage to reach adulthood.
      • Social and emotional development helps a kid to shape his future. This allows him to decide his ambitions while having proper control over his emotions.
      • Development of social skills allows a child to cooperate and play with peers, pay attention to the instructions offered by parents or teachers and obtain good transition while indulging in one activity or another.
      • Development of emotional skills allows your child to undergo a learning process which would educate him about the ways he can understand and control the emotions.
      • The social and emotional development of a child is categorized into different phases to help parents determine which stage your child is in now.

You must look out for the following milestones in your child to know how well he or she has developed so far.

1. Emotional Development From 0-6 Months:

Babies begin to learn many things in an active way almost from birth. They learn about the people in their home and about themselves.

      • During this age, your baby would:
      • Look at his hands or suck his fingers.
      • When you touch any part of his body, he will try to look where he is being touched.
      • Gain an understanding about his hands and legs.
      • Realize that he is separate from the rest.
      • Begins to learn that he needs the comfort of adults and loves being soothed.
      • Enjoys socializing and smiles at you.
      • Responds to your touch.

Social interaction is an important factor to be considered during 3 to 6 months stage. If your baby is between 3 to 6 months, he would:

      • Respond to you when you call his name.
      • Smile or laugh when you make some noises.
      • Love to play peek a boo.

[ Read: Brain Development in Children ]

2. Emotional Development From 6 Months -1 Year:

As your baby grows, he would begin to show liking towards family members. If you have babies who are aged between 6 months to 9 months, lookout for signs of social and emotional development such as:

      • Expressing a variety of emotions like happiness, anger, sadness and fearfulness.
      • Will be able to differentiate between strangers, family and others.
      • Exhibits frustration when you take a toy away from his hand.
      • Shows response to the words or gestures you do.

During 9 months to1 Year of age stage, your baby tends to become very social, performs certain actions like elders and becomes a bit responsible. Self-regulation is an important factor to be considered at this stage. By now, your baby would be able to:

      • Holds a cup while drinking from it.
      • Imitates simple actions.
      • Try to eat by himself by putting small pieces of food in his mouth.
      • Show anxiety when separated from you.

3. Emotional Development From 1-2 Years:

When your kid is within this age group, he will tend to spend a lot of time in exploring things around him, observing people at home and also develop a sense of self-awareness. By this age, your kid can:

      • Recognize his reflection in the mirror.
      • Take the initiative while playing.
      • Imitate the actions of adults.
      • Play separately.
      • Is pleased when you appreciate for accomplishing something.
      • Tries to help you.
      • Puts toys away after playing.
      • Negative emotions such as frustration or anger surfaces.
      • Becomes very self-assertive and would try to direct you to perform few actions.

[ Read: Major Developmental Stages Of Children ]

4. Emotional Development From 2-3 Years:

This is known as the toddler stage when your kid would become very creative and would have loads of confidence in all his actions. After your child is 2 years old, he will begin to:

      • Be aware about whether he is a boy or girl.
      • Try to put the dress on and remove it on his own.
      • Show his tastes while wearing dresses, eating food, choosing toys and while playing games.
      • Learn to say no to your requests.
      • Enjoy the company of other kids and play with them.
      • Show a defensive attitude about the toys he owns.
      • Use various objects to play.
      • Have frequent mood swings.

5. Emotional Development From 3-4 Years:

Your 3 year old toddler would be able to perform various activities physically which would improve his self confidence levels. It will also help him become very independent during this stage. From 3 years of age, your kid would be able to:

      • Follow the directions you give him.
      • Perform few activities without any assistance.
      • Begin to share the toys with siblings or friends.
      • Create some new game ideas and invite friends to join in.
      • Become much interested in pretend play.

6. Emotional Development From 4-6 Years:

When your child is four years old, he would begin to gain awareness about his individuality. When he is interested in physical activities, he will tend to develop his motor skills and reasoning skills. This would help him achieve good levels of confidence and feel proud about himself. At this age, your kid would try to:

      • Differentiate between good behavior and bad behavior.
      • Create friendship with other kids.
      • Make a comparison between himself and the rest.
      • Try to understand other’s feelings.
      • Enjoy an imaginative game which is a bit dramatic with other kids.
      • Like to involve in competitive games.
      • Try to lead a group of friends while playing.
      • Cooperate with other people.
      • Follow instructions correctly.
      • Show interest in creative drawing.

7. Emotional Development From 7-12 Years:

This stage is known as the age of going to school. This stage would make your kid experience lots of emotional outbursts and learn a number of skills such as:

      • Blend well with peers.
      • Follow rules well.
      • Follow a well-structured play style with rules.
      • Form a team in a formal way.
      • Show interest in learning major subjects like maths, social studies, etc.
      • Have a self-disciplined approach while learning.
      • Take initiative to do some activities.
      • Feel pride when bestowed with new responsibilities.

[ Read: Personality Development Tips For Children ]

8. Emotional Development From 12-20 Years:

This is the stage of psychological crisis, as your child would experience lots of confusion about his gender, the opposite gender and will face other issues related to the teenage stage. During this adolescent stage, your kid would:

      • Learn to answer your questions in a satisfactory manner.
      • Begin to know more about him.
      • Face some role identity issues.
      • Rebellious nature surfaces when confronted with an issue.
      • Have many doubts about himself.
      • Become self-conscious about the appearance.
      • Seek true intimacy.
      • Prefer to be isolated.
      • Look out for a long lasting and genuine friendship.

As a parent, making a note of this social and emotional development among your kid in each stage is important. It helps in the development and well-being of your child.

Factors That Influence Social And Emotional Development In Children:

First, it is important for you to remember that the development of each child is unique and complex. There might be slight or huge differences in the social and emotional development of your child, as it is associated with a number of factors. Many factors affect the way children express their social and emotional competencies. Some of them are:

  • Some similarities are found between the emotional development of parents and children. These are the hereditary factors.
  • As your child develops mentally, she also becomes emotionally matured. Psychologists say that the child’s emotions depend upon her maturity level.
  • John B. Watson, an American psychologist, has stated that children learn from conditioning. An experiment was conducted on a nine-month-old baby, who was shown a rat to the child and a lot of noise was made in the background. Later it was observed that baby started crying by merely looking at the rat.
  • Likewise, if there is an expression of physical love in the family, the baby also expresses her love by contact, kisses, or hugs.
  • Children who have sound health can control their emotions in a better way while those who remain weak show irritability, excitement and unstable emotions.
  • Intelligent children are also emotionally stable. Those with low intelligence are low in stability as well.
  • Relations in the family and the way they express their emotions affect the emotional development of a child. If the parents have stability in their behavior and express their feelings in a balanced manner, the children also follow in their footsteps.
  • If parents are violent, children also adopt the same. If you over pamper your children, there are chances for them turning indisciplined and obstinate. On the contrary, if you do not show any affection, they become introvert and submissive.
  • Just like family, the society, too, influences a child’s emotional development. If the environment is emotionally charged, the child becomes emotionally unstable. If people are stable and have control over their emotions, the child also remains so. They learn to control their emotions and try to conform to socially acceptable behaviour.
  • Managing emotions for a sound physical and mental health is necessary. When your child is emotionally charged, several changes, like a change in pulse rate, blood circulation, stretching of eyes, an effect on the digestive system and more, occur in the body.

Why Is Social Development In Children Important?

Your kids need to develop healthy social and emotional skills. It is very important you help them do so, as it would help them to:

      • Nurture relationships
      • Master the qualities of initiating, discovering, learning and playing
      • Create attention and persistence
      • Control and regulate their behavior
      • Develop a control over their emotions

[ Read: Social Referencing In Child Development ]

How To Enhance Social and Emotional Skills?

Social and emotional development in early childhood is most essential for your kids to know that they can trust you and be dependent on you completely.

  • This feeling can be created only by you. Stay consistent and be responsive towards your kids.
  • Remember to place some rules to discipline your kids as they grow bigger.
  • When your child realizes what you expect from him or learns what would happen if the rules are not followed or broken, they would learn that being orderly is the right thing to do.
  • This would also offer your kid a good sense of self control.
  • To help your kids develop social and emotional skills, you have to create the opportunity to let your kids play with others. You can do this by taking them to a park, enroll them in a play school, help them to learn about their abilities and help them in expressing their feelings well.
  • You can also try to offer limited options to help your child make their own decisions regarding simple everyday things like what they need for dinner, which color dress they wish to wear, etc.
  • These choices would help your kids to form their own decisions and offer them greater levels of confidence.
  • In a social environment, your kids must be able to express their feeling with the right kind of emotions and through the right way.
  • If you feel that your kid is highly emotional or jealous, motivate your child to talk about what they feel without throwing any temper tantrums.
  • This would help your kid to refrain from any emotional outbreak during such occasions as it would prevent them from hurting others.
  • Sometimes, when kids don’t have control over their emotions, they tend to hit or yell at their friends or younger siblings.
  • During such occasions, it is essential for you to tell them that it is not acceptable and suggest an alternate response.
  • Another important thing you need to remember as a parent is to never shout or yell at your kids. You also need to refrain from doing so at anyone in front of your kids, as they might tend to follow your actions.
  • This can influence the social and emotional development in your kid and would spoil the character of your kids while he grows.

Essential Points To Remember About Your Kids:

Your baby tends to start relationships with the members around him from the time of birth. The process of development, such as controlling the emotions or behaving properly might take a few years to develop.

  • The process of social and emotional development in children tends to continue until they reach their last teenage years.
  • This is why you will notice a difference in your kids while they are sharing things, taking turns or making friends as they grow.
  • The emotional view of development allows your kid to understand or control his or her internal emotions. The social aspect of development helps balance the external elements like interacting with family and friends.
  • As a responsible parent, it is important for you to know which social and emotional skills your kids lack right from birth to help them accomplish it as they grow.

Understand that all children are special in their own ways, so your kid may or may not show the above signs at the particular age. The one thing to remember always is to let your child know that you love him, no matter what.

Share your views on according to you how you can improve emotional development in children with us.

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Mitha Shameer

Mitha is passionate about writing on topics related to women and children. She loves to present the brighter side of life to her readers in the form of her articles. She writes on games, stories, arts & craft, celebrations and more for MomJunction. When she isn't glued to online shopping websites, she loves reading books and watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S.