Activities That Will Promote a Child's Social & Emotional Development

Social and emotional development are two vital areas to children's overall health and well-being, according to the National Healthy Start Association 12. Giving children adequate opportunities to develop socially and emotionally allows them to become trusting, empathetic, self-confident individuals who are able to communicate successfully and form relationships with others. Parents can promote their children's social and emotional development through a variety of activities 12.

Simon Says

Playing Simon Says with your child can help her develop self-control. Simon Says also promotes movement and physical activity. You can play the game in a variety of settings, including at home and in the car. Start by explaining the rules of the game. Tell your child you're going to give her different commands and that she should only follow the command if you say “Simon says” before you give it. Begin playing by giving your child simple directions, such as “Simon says pat your knees” or “Simon says stick out your tongue.” Vary the directions and exclude saying “Simon says” before some of them. By playing Simon Says frequently, you can help your child learn about following directions and rules.

“Inside” Growing Chart

Keeping an “Inside” Growing Chart is an effective way to allow your child to see how well he is developing social and emotional skills such as self-expression, responsibility, cooperation and self-control. Materials for this activity include a large piece of paper and a marker or other writing utensil. Hang the paper on a wall of your house with the top of it at your child's height. Each month, note and date events that reflect your child's social and emotional development, including things such as:

  • sharing with a friend
  • using the toilet
  • dressing without help
  • waiting patiently
  • expressing his feelings instead of hitting 1

Start a new growing chart every month and put them together to make a scrapbook.

Books and Discussions

Children's literature is a useful medium for promoting your child's social and emotional development 12. Check your local bookstore or library for different books about feelings. As you read stories to your child, ask her questions about the plot and the characters. Encourage your child to make predictions about the book, analyze the feelings of the characters and provide explanations of the characters' actions. Showing affection also promotes a child's social and emotional development 12. While you are reading with your child, encourage her to cuddle up next to you or rest her head on your shoulder.

Play Dates

By providing opportunities for social interaction, you can help your child learn skills such as communication and conflict resolution. Set up play dates with other kids around your child's age. While they are playing, model behaviors such as sharing, taking turns and compromising for your child. Help him learn to express his thoughts and feelings with words and to work through problems with others in a healthy, appropriate way.