Social and Emotional Skills in Children

When the social and emotional development process progresses well, a child basically acquires 5 basic social and relational skills:

Self awareness:

The individual knows what interests him and his strengths. He understands what he feels and recognizes his feelings. For this reason, he has self-confidence and a positive and hopeful approach towards the future.

Social Awareness:

Recognizes and appreciates perspective on others, empathy, and similarities and differences with the group. They know, find and use support resources in the family, school, peer groups and other environments.

Relationship skills:

The individual can initiate and maintain cooperative, mutually satisfying and healthy relationships. It can take a constructive role in interpersonal conflicts. They can avoid conflicts, be part of the solution, and seek help when needed.

Self management:

He can control his impulses, persevere in dealing with obstacles, and manage life stress. He can focus on his life goals and follow the necessary paths. Can find appropriate ways to express emotions in different situations.

Responsibility and choice:

Knows the possible consequences of any action according to general ethical values, security threatening factors, appropriate social expectations. He can make choices about it and take responsibility for his choices.

The first steps of social-emotional development are gaze, attachment, attention, and gestures.


According to the baby’s behavior, even at 4-5 months old, the baby smiles when the adult smiles, and when the adult stops smiling, the baby stops smiling and frowns. These kinds of behaviors and interactions are the first baby steps of social emotional development and relationship skills.


In the first year of life, very strong and deep emotional bonds are formed between infants and the adults who care for them. John Bowlby, the creator of attachment theory, observed that infants form strong bonds based on interest and intimacy with one or more important adults between 6-30 months. At the heart of emotional learning is this intense emotional relationship. Daily care, love and care rituals find their place in the child’s inner world as core experiences of what to expect from other people. Thus, the foundations of relationship skills continue to be laid.

Joint Attention:

This means that when another person points to the baby or expresses something that catches his or her attention with gestures and facial expressions, the baby participates. Around the age of one, infants gradually learn to shift their gaze between the adult and the object and thus establish joint attention. When things are incomprehensible for the baby, he shifts his gaze to the adult. This behavior, which is likely to be doing to get more information or to relax, is also a joint attention behavior. Joint attention and attention are also considered the foundation of relationship skills.

Intentional gestures and pointing

Babies may start pointing at objects and events again around the first year and may begin to make some deliberate movements. Can nod yes or no or wave to the adult. These intentional behaviors form the basis of social emotional development and communication skills.

Social emotional development: preschoolers socially learning about others’ perspectives

The next key stage in the social-emotional development journey is the emergence of an understanding of the perspectives of others.

Before going out with his mother that day, Ahmet put his toy car under his bed. His mother took the toy before he saw it and put it in the closet and thus changed its place. After going out, Ahmet wanted to buy his toy car. We can watch the video of this story with 3-year-olds and 5-year-olds and ask: “Where do you think Ahmet will look for his toy?” How do you think the answer of a 3-year-old child and a 5-year-old child will change? Of course, they will give different answers about seeing the difference between their point of view and Ahmet’s point of view.

Constructing a story similar to this one, researchers found that children go through a developmental stage of understanding others’ point of view. They said that the three-year-old boy, Ahmet, would look for the toy in the closet. Because from their point of view the toy was in the closet last. They cannot evaluate the event from Ahmet’s point of view. However, the 5-year-old will most likely give you the correct answer. Because, unlike him, he is aware that Ahmet does not see the place of the toy change, and he can evaluate the situation from his point of view.

The above example is another stage of children’s social-emotional development. “understanding other people’s point of view” exemplifies his skills. Of course, as children develop, they reach higher levels of social emotional learning.

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