Get to Know Your Child’s Social- Emotional Learning Milestones

Among developmental milestones your child reaches as she grows into adulthood, are the social-emotional learning skills. Social- emotional  development is important to your child’s ability to interact with others and manage his or her emotions and emotional responses along the way. It is important to making effective decisions.

SEL[social-emotional learning] is the process through which children acquire knowledge, attitudes and skills to manage and understand emotions, feel and demonstrate empathy, set and achieve goals and establish positive relationships with others.

There are five core SEL competencies. They are:


5 Core SEL Competencies

Parents and teachers, along with other caregivers spend a great deal of time with children,. Because this is so, they are well-positioned to observe children closely for signs of mental and developmental delays and intervene before negative behaviors are adopted.

By age group, we can observe acquisition of behaviors and skills such as:

EARLY CHILDHOOD[3-8 years old]

  • Establish and maintain positive relationships
  • Identify and manage emotions
  • resiliency
  • functioning independently
  • Display empathy and sense of morality
  • Understanding different viewpoints and opinions
  • Developing a sense of identity
  • Controlling impulses[behaviors]

MIDDLE CHILDHOOD[9-11 years old]

  • A more refined sense of self
  • Strengthening cooperative skills
  • Deeper independence and individuality
  • Developing communication skills
  • Better handling of interpersonal conflicts
  • Appropriate behaviors in social situations
  • Appropriate cyber behavior
  • Responsibility of actions

ADOLESCENCE[12-18years old]

  • Established independence
  • Acceptance within a peer group
  • Self-acceptance
  • Appropriate handling of issues within dating and relationships
  • Increased self-assurance
  • Adjustment to a larger social world

Social and emotional competency is as least as predictive of academic and career achievement as IQ.

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Attention to social and emotional development is not only valuable in early childhood. Sustaining a focus on social and emotional growth through adolescence is crucial for improving achievement and outcomes beyond school.

Social emotional learning is futile if children do not carry their skills with them at school, into the home and elsewhere. Parents can support SEL development in simple ways, such as asking their child,”How are you feeling?” Building up knowledge around SEL enables parents to identify moments as they appear and turn them into teachable moments.

Begin to facilitate conversations about emotions and mental health. Reading books and stories with your child, think of questions to ask of him or her after reading. Reading books with or to your child begins before your child becomes school age. When reading, take occasional pauses and discuss what characters are doing, what decisions they make and how the characters feel.

Storytelling is an important avenue to identifying and discussing emotions, relationships, decision-making, and conflict resolution. Don’t just read books to your child, but put your child in the book. Make him or her a part of the story, as one or each character and then relating it to themselves-real life. This can be done with children from preschool to high school ages.

Encourage your child to ask questions about your own childhood. Tell him or her about the challenges you faced and how you managed them. Talk about your feelings. Identifying and discussing feelings with your child communicates that sharing feelings, naming them and acceptance of feelings is not taboo. It is the way one manages feelings and expressing them that is most important.

Do a lot of listening when your child talks, and don’t try to dictate how he should feel.   Learning how your child interprets emotions gives you an idea of where he or she is in her emotional development. Adults can model the attitudes and behaviors that we wish children to master. Parents and schools should be in sync with SEL and ensure these skills are utilized in school and  reinforced at home.

When schools and parents are on the same page about the behaviors they promote and expect, with a shared language for social and emotional skills learning, it becomes easier for children to transition smoothly in development. It also helps children apply the skills across settings.


Focus on your child’s strengths, not weaknesses. Ask about feelings. Always be willing to apologize. Remain calm when you’re angry. Encourage helping behaviors and sharing, too.


Begin by learning about your families. Have a resource center for your parents. Involve parents in developing SEL goals for their children. Incorporate ongoing opportunities for SEL in lessons and school culture.

SEL: Everyone has a tole to play. Know the milestones and foster learning in all you do.


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