Social Emotional Development

A tremendous amount of attention is paid to promoting intellect in children. In Chicago and other large cities across the country, parents find it necessary to compete to get children into good preschools, standardized tests are common place throughout grade school/middle school and there is an exorbitant amount of pressure on kids in the 8th grade to get into the "best" high schools. But what about social and emotional skills or emotional intelligence? How do these affect children's development?

During children's earliest years of life, they develop through relationships. Healthy, consistent connections with primary caregivers help support children's social emotional development. Socially and emotionally healthy children are able to identify and appropriately express their feelings and manage behaviors, they have an awareness of others' feelings and respond with empathy, and they are able to appreciate successes and tolerate disappointment.These are very valuable skills, as they allow children to get along in the world. Strong social emotional skills can also promote learning; children who have a more well developed sense of self and are more emotionally stable tend to perform better in school. They are less emotionally distracted and can focus their attention on learning. They are also more tolerant of mistakes and learn from them instead of feeling injured and fearful of trying again.

Society values intelligence. Encouraging families to continue to strengthen positive, connected, warm, calm, caring, patient, secure relationships not only has the potential to support children's social emotional growth, it contributes to overall learning and intellect as well.

Denise Duval Tsioles, PhD, LCSW

Child Therapy Chicago

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