Social and emotional learning involves recognizing one’s emotions and gaining control over them. This essentially refers to  emotional intelligence which enables a person to navigate social situations with ease, and use empathy to reduce conflict in order to maintain healthy relationships with others. Although schools teach the basics of recognizing emotions of others through facial expressions and tone of voice among other things, promoting social and emotional development must begin from a young age and be practiced as often as possible. Parents have the greatest influence on their children, and this makes them the best candidate to teach these essential developmental skills. As a parent, you know your child more than anyone. You spend lots of time together and work on activities together. Promoting social and emotional development in your child may not be a simple task, but incorporating it into your daily activities can create a positive impact toward your child’s social and emotional development.


Self awareness primarily refers to a child’s ability to regulate his or her emotions by understanding and identifying them using labels. As a parent, you can promote self-awareness by responding positively to your child’s emotions. By helping them recognize that the emotions they’re feeling are normal and that they can do something about it, you are teaching your child to be more confident about having these emotions and that they have the power to rule over them. You can also facilitate in your child’s social and emotional development by asking them to reflect on their emotions and actions whenever they express empathy and kindness toward others. In terms of setting yourself as a role model, begin by expressing your emotions openly with your child and tell them how you feel and what you can do about those feelings. This teaches your child to face these feelings with openness and acceptance as it happens in their own experiences.

Validate and encourage the expression of feelings

There’s nothing more cathartic than having someone listen and validate your feelings. No matter what age, kids need emotional support the most, and this boils down to how you are reacting and phrasing your responses to their emotions. Instead of dismissing their cries, try to get to the bottom of things and ask your child why he or she is crying and if anything bothers them. This allows you to help your child cope with these emotions and find a better way to deal with them. As a parent, your reactions toward your child’s range of emotions are vital to their emotional and social development. Keep in mind that the manner in which you deal with your child’s emotions reflects how they react and recognize other peoples’ emotions at the same time. When you take positive steps to encourage expression of feelings, your child is likely to respond positively to others’ expression of feelings too.

Behavior Management

As soon as your child can identify and  label their emotions, you can start teaching them how to get control of these feelings in healthy ways. Children–especially toddlers–observe how you handle circumstances and take it as their own. Being the parent, it’s in your child’s best interest that you serve as a model of good behavior when such emotional outbursts arise. Show them different methods of coping such as taking deep breaths, counting to ten, going for a run or walk or squeezing a stress ball. Relaxation strategies such as mindfulness and meditation can work too. Even taking a shower, listening to music, or cuddling a pet helps. Your child can adopt whichever method makes them feel most comfortable. As long as they’re not getting in the way of others and not hurting themselves physically, any method they choose is okay.

Social Awareness and Relationship Skills

As with anything you teach your child through leading by example, you can teach your child empathy by taking a moment to listen and understand how they feel and encouraging them to do the same with others. Show them how you interact with other people who are different from those they are used to seeing by taking them out with you to do errands. Engage with the community in a friendly and respectful manner and allow your child to observe how you talk to your next-door neighbor or the mailman, how to feel comfortable making small conversations with the cab driver and the grocery store clerks. These little interactions with others help build your child’s confidence in navigating the world outside of home. Maintaining good friendly relationships also extends down to how conflicts are resolved. Set examples for avoiding conflict by respecting other people’s differences and being the first to apologize when you do wrong.  

If you’re looking to raise a well-rounded child who lives by the word of God, Cornerstone Learning Center provides quality preschool education that promotes social and emotional development in your child. With three locations in the greater Memphis area, including both Olive Branch and Southwind, you can rest assured that your child’s education and values are in line with your own. Find out more at Cornerstone Learning Center.