Preschoolers all follow the same path of development, but still, no two children develop at the same pace. There is a wide range of what is considered typical development for young children, but if your child is developing social and emotional skills much later than their peers it can also cause behavior issues.
If you are concerned that your preschooler may have social, emotional, and behavioral developmental delays, it is important to speak with your child’s pediatrician about your concerns. Early intervention is key in helping your child get caught back up with their peers.
DEFINITION OF SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL, AND BEHAVIORAL DELAYS
Social and emotional development is how children learn to express and manage their emotions, form relationships, and interact within groups. When a child has a developmental delay they still show progress in that area of development, but they progress much more slowly. A child with social, emotional, and behavioral delays fall behind compared to where their peers are, which makes social interactions difficult. The frustration that comes from the child’s difficulty in communicating their needs and wants, managing their emotions, and interacting with their peers can lead to some very challenging behaviors, too.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CHILD HAS A SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL, AND BEHAVIORAL DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY
If your child has a social, emotional, and behavioral developmental delay they will be falling behind in their social and emotional developmental milestones compared to other children of the same age. Social, emotional, and behavior delays are even more likely if a child’s Mother struggles with depression, the child has excessive screen time exposure, or has irregular sleep patterns. The way that children with social, emotional, and behavioral delays interact with their peers will look very different from their peers interactions. Here are some things to watch out for if you are concerned that your child may have a social, emotional, and behavioral developmental delay.
- Difficulty understanding social cues
- Struggles with initiating and maintaining conversations
- Has trouble carrying two way conversations
- Doesn’t play games involving back and forth play
- Separating from parents is extremely difficult
- Is sad, withdrawn, or overly aggressive
- Has frequent tantrums
- Has difficulty managing emotions
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD IF THEY HAVE A SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL, AND BEHAVIORAL DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY
Children with developmental delays do have a chance at catching up to their peers. It takes a lot of patience and effort though. The earlier the delay is addressed the better, too. Early intervention services and support at home are key in helping your child catch up. Here are some ways that you can help support your child if they have a social, emotional, and behavioral developmental delay.
- Establish a routine
- Provide opportunities to play with other children
- Show your emotions
- Acknowledge and name their feelings
- Read social stories
- Model healthy calming strategies
- Provide visual cues
As always, if you have any concerns about your child’s development, start a conversation with your child’s pediatrician. They will be able to help you determine whether or not your child has a delay, as well as guide you towards the most appropriate early interventions for your child. Caring for a child with social, emotional, and behavioral delays can be overwhelming, so be sure to practice good self care and ask for help when you need it.