Things Parents Can Do to Help With Social and Emotional Development in Their Children


As your children move from childhood to adolescence, they grow socially and emotionally in a natural way. As a parent, learning about children’s needs and taking a proactive stance can help your child form strong friendships and learn to process his emotions in healthy ways. One way to encourage positive development is to pay attention to your child’s interactions with others and his emotional responses to stress. If you notice anything that concerns you, address these issues right away. This can ensure that your children develop in the healthiest way possible.

Understand Child Development

  • To effectively foster healthy social and emotional development in children, parents should have at least a basic knowledge of the ways in which children and adolescents grow and develop. Although parents do not need to be experts in child development, understanding a child’s social and emotional needs during toddlerhood, elementary school, the preteen years and adolescence can help parents respond appropriately to their children’s needs, explains the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service. In addition to reading books and seeking out online resources, many hospitals, clinics and social service agencies offer parenting courses that focus on basic child development.

Nurturing Home Environment

  • Parents play a crucial role in a child’s social and emotional development beginning in infancy. In the early years, ensuring that children have their basic needs for food, shelter, safety and comfort met can help them establish secure attachments, which are the cornerstones of healthy social and emotional development. As children get older, increasing their autonomy, along with providing age-appropriate support and guidance, can encourage appropriate emotional and social skills.

Encourage Healthy Peer Interactions

  • As children reach the pre-teen years, friends are an increasingly important part of their social and emotional development. As a parent you should get to know your children's friends to ensure that they interact with kids who provide positive influences. Further, you can encourage good social and emotional skills by encouraging your children to participate in meaningful peer-based activities such as sports, music or organized clubs, suggests the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning.

Model Healthy Social and Emotional Skills

  • Parents play a crucial role in shaping how children respond socially and emotionally. While genetics play some role in a child’s behaviors, environment also plays an important role. In other words, parents’ behaviors affect the way that a child develops. To encourage healthy social and emotional growth, model behaviors you want to see in your children. For example, expressing your emotions calmly, without blaming others, and maintaining healthy relationship boundaries can set a good example for your children and shape their development in positive ways.


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