Social and emotional development are a high priority in the early years. Children need a strong foundation in social-emotional skills in order to successfully build meaningful and lasting relationships throughout their lives.
DEFINITION OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Social development is the process of learning how to interact within a group. Three year olds are very social. They are less likely to experience separation anxiety when they are away from you, and they seek out the company of other children. These traits make it a lot easier for them to develop even stronger social skills.
3-YEAR-OLD SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT MILESTONES
- Takes turns
- Shows affection spontaneously
- Displays some problem-solving skills
- Likes to help around the house
- Understands the concept of “mine”, “his”, and “hers”
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
At 3 years old, children are learning how to be more self-sufficient. One fun way to practice these skills is through dress-up! Preschoolers love to dress-up in fun costumes, which is a great way to practice skills such as dressing and undressing independently, zippers, and buttons.
Playing simple board games with your 3 year old is another great way to build on their growing social skills. Board games give them an opportunity to practice turn taking through play. It also gives them a chance to learn how to lose gracefully.
DEFINITION OF EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Emotional development is the ability to have empathy for others and to identify, express, and manage the emotions of one’s self and others. Three year-olds are beginning to be able to label some of their emotions. This can still be difficult for them to do in the moment though, as they still lack impulse control. This lack of impulse control can lead to some very big emotions that are difficult for 3-year-olds to manage well.
3-YEAR-OLD EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT MILESTONES
- Shows concern for others
- Separates from parents easily in familiar settings
- Gets upset with big changes in routines
- Shows a wide range of emotions
- Shows fear of imaginary things
- Cares how others act
EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
It’s important to support your preschooler in their emotional development through play. It is quite difficult for children to use good emotional skills when they are upset if they have not yet practiced them before. Giving your child opportunities to practice different ways to manage their emotions when they are calm will make it a little easier for them when they really do get upset.
Use games to talk about emotions. You can play an emotions matching/memory game. This will help your child learn to identify and label their emotions, as well as others’. Reading and music are also great ways to help support your 3-year-old’s emotional development.