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by Tweety Yates, Ph.D.

In our recent webinar, “Supporting the Social Emotional Development of Young Children: Ideas, Strategies, and Resources”, we talked about the importance of social emotional development and what that means for us. Young children who have a strong social emotional foundation not only do better academically, but also tend to be happier, have more friends, and show greater motivation to learn.

Social emotional development definition

Below are a few of the highlights discussed during the webinar:


  • Infants and young children develop within the context of relationships.
  • Strong, positive relationships help children develop trust, empathy, and friendships, as well as begin to regulate, label and manage emotions and problem solve.
  • It is important to help infants and young children keep connections and relationships strong when they are disrupted due to family members deployment.
  • Ideas for doing this were shared (e.g., family photo albums, video/audio tapes of favorite stories, etc.).

Stages of Learning:

  • The stages of learning help us plan how to teach children social emotional skills.
  • The stages were described as:
    • Show and Tell: the acquisition stage when children need a skill explained and demonstrated
    • Practice Makes Perfect: refers to the need to have many opportunities to practice and build fluency
    • You Got It: the stage of learning when a child knows the skill well enough to use over time and in new situations.
  • Each learning stage requires intentional, purposeful planning on our part.

Friendship Skills:

  • Relationships with caregivers play an important role in the development of friendship skills for infants and young children.
  • When children are successful at making friends, they have opportunities to learn and practice many social skills such as cooperation, sharing, turn taking, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
  • Several discrete behaviors were discussed that young children engage in during play that seem to be directly related to having friends.
  • Teaching these skills can help young children from military families have the skills needed to develop new friendships if they experience multiple moves.

Emotional Literacy Skills:

  • Emotional Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, and express emotions in a healthy way.
  • When children have a large and more complex feeling vocabulary, they are better able to make finer discriminations between feelings and better communicate with others about what they are feeling.
  • Emotional literacy begins early as we label an infant’s feelings during diaper changing, help a child express what they are feeling around their military family’s experiences (e.g., deployment, moving, no-notice deployments, parent away for training/school) or teach strategies to use when feeling angry.

Many resources were shared during the webinar to support the development of social emotional skills. The recorded version of the webinar and a link to additional resources can be found at the event page.