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Defining Social-Emotional Development

Defining Social Emotional Development

We’ve all been on the receiving end of questions like, “is she crawling?” or “is he walking yet?” Everyone wants to know when they’re rolling, sitting, and cruising. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, worrying, or comparing your little’s progress in this one arena to that of other children, chances are you’re not alone. It’s hard not to focus on the noteworthy physical and academic developmental milestones when they’re the first things everyone wants to talk about in most parenting circles. As a society, we put an incredible amount of emphasis on meeting (or not meeting) these physical and cognitive milestones. So much so that maybe we don’t create enough space for social-emotional development.  

Development in this specific area actually plays a critical role in achieving what most of us consider to be one of our most important tasks as parents- Raising good humans. So let’s quickly break down what it is and why we should give it a little more attention.

What is social-emotional development?

By its very definition social-emotional development includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions and raising the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others.

Why it’s such a big deal...

Generally speaking, social-emotional development lays the foundation for your child to learn indispensable skills such as cooperation, following directions, demonstrating self-control and paying attention- Skills they’ll need increasingly more as they venture beyond home to places like school, the workforce, and later on other meaningful relationships.

Now how can you encourage this critical development? Actually, the biggest way you support your child’s development here is by having a trusting, caring, and overall positive relationship with them. If you were worried that maybe you’ve been focused too much on the physical milestones, don’t stress just yet! Without a second thought you are most likely already doing some important little things that support your child’s development on a daily basis. Little acts like a reassuring hug, acknowledging bravery when faced with something stressful, showing and sharing excitement over successes, or praise for helping with everyday tasks at home all make a huge impact when it comes to social-emotional development.  

When talking about social-emotional development it’s important we keep in mind that children develop these skills at different rates and all kids will bloom when they are ready. That’s because for new learning and skills to come on board prior foundational skills are needed to have come on board. Every child will do their growing and learning when they’re meant to do it. When we compare our kids to others’ we feel pressured and anxious. The comparisons and competition may motivate us to force their learning creating an environment of frustration, confusion and overwhelm for both parents and kids. When we try to rush children’s development we truly do more harm than help.

Changing patterns of behavior is hard, and it can be confusing and challenging to try new things. It’s also so easy to give up when something new doesn’t work out and then to come up with plenty of excuses about why it doesn’t work and resort back to old habits.

I want you to know my support is always available.

If you relate to any of this information and want to learn more about how I can help you, or if you want to schedule a free phone conversation to see if my coaching is right for your family, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Your child’s potential is limitless. Their success begins with you.

Your parenting counts!

This post is a guest article written by Amber Navarro. Amber is a birth doula and certified lactation educator & counselor. She graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in Psychology. She currently lives in Orange County, Ca with her husband and three boys where she's found a home within the birth community. Her work as a doula allow her to utilize her passion for pregnancy, birth, babywearing, and breastfeeding to support new parents.

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My work is dedicated to supporting parents and early childhood educators in understanding and reducing challenging behavior in young children at home and in the preschool classroom.

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