Let Me Be Me, Let’s Be Friends is the area of learning that refers to healthy emotional and social development. This area is the heart of a child’s ability to learn. When a child feels emotionally secure and confident, a child is receptive to learning. As adults, we know it is difficult to concentrate in a state of stress if there has been a fight with a significant other or a job loss. If something is bothering us, it can be difficult to make it through the day.

Children are affected in the same way. It may be hearing Mommy and Daddy argue, having a fight with a sibling or friend, being tired, or simply having a hard day. It’s important to recognize children experience emotions as adults do. Social and emotional development touch two areas: the ability to develop social connections and emotional ones.

SOCIAL CONNECTION is a child’s ability to get along with others and to make friends. This is the ability to find their own identity, navigate relationships, and understand right from wrong.

EMOTIONAL CONNECTION is a child’s ability to experience positive feelings of understanding, and empathy, have self-esteem, and express emotions (such as love, hate, anger, sadness, and loneliness), in a positive and socially acceptable way.

Indicators of a Child’s Progress through Early Social/Emotional Development

• Is able to separate from parents
• Shows trust in other adults (allows another adult to feed them)
• Adapts to new situations (stays without angst with a relative or babysitter)
• Recognizes own feelings (asks for a hug)
• Recognizes feelings in others (offers a hug)
• Feels confident in growing abilities (says “I did it myself.”)
• Asserts self (stands up for his or her rights)
• Seeks help when needed (asks for help cutting out a picture)
• Capable of independent decision making
• Assumes responsibility for self (puts on or takes off his or her own jacket)

• Identifies as a member of a family or culture
• Shows pride in heritage or background
• Seeks out other children and adults
• Share toys and materials with others
• Respect boundaries; property and rights of others
• Follows routines (brushes teeth before bed)
• Respect rules by following them
• Plays and works well with other children (says, “You can use my toy.”)
• Thinks through and discusses conflict with others (asks, “Can I have my toy back, please?”)

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