Social Emotional Development in Early Learning

Talking to Your Toddlers
Talking to Your Toddlers
August 8, 2022
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October 7, 2022
Talking to Your Toddlers
Talking to Your Toddlers
August 8, 2022
When Do Children Develop Self Control?
October 7, 2022
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Social Emotional Development in Early Learning

Young Girl Demonstrating Patience

Social Emotional Development in Early Learning

Improving Attitudes and Promoting Positive Behavior

Did you know that children with good Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills are:

  • Better at academic achievement.
  • Have improved attitudes toward school.
  • Show positive social behavior in more situations.
  • Are less likely to be involved in physical aggression.

Like early learning itself, good SEL development means that children are better prepared for academic success in later years, as well as providing the social, emotional, and cognitive skills that play a part in lifelong learning and, eventually, higher earnings in the workforce.

How Soon Can SEL Begin?

Social emotional learning is not something that happens in a day or by a particular childhood milestone.

SEL is a continuum. It begins very early, as children develop trust and confidence in their caregivers, learning that when they express hunger or the need to be comforted, those needs will be met. This gives them the confidence to take initiatives, like exploring their world and engaging with other children.

Playing and sharing provide many opportunities for SEL. While engaging in play, children learn to have empathy with others and to control impulses, like excitement, anger, and frustration.


Self-management is a big part of social emotional learning.

An easy way to understand self-management is thinking of “self-control.” As toddlers grow, they need to learn basic self-management skills like impulse control, self-motivation, self-discipline and goal setting, and basic organizational skills.

Impulse control is about delaying immediate impulses. A familiar example is when children learn to raise their hands in a group or classroom environment rather than just shouting or acting out.

Early stress management in children is dependent on parents and caregivers. Stress in children looks different than it does in adults. Children who are stressed often cry or try to soothe themselves with repetitive behaviors, including nail-biting, hair-twisting, and skin-scratching. Good sleep, dependable routines, a proper diet, and caregiver support and communication go a long way to helping toddlers manage their stress.

Self-discipline and goal setting go hand-in-hand. You can think of this as the “willpower” to focus and attend to the task at hand rather than being easily distracted either by internal emotions or the external actions of others. Of course, goal setting for toddlers may mean coloring within the lines. Potty training would be a major life goal for a 3-year-old! Always remember to take it easy and be supportive. At an early age, feeling the confidence to have goals is more important than achieving them the first time.

Self-motivation and organizational skills round out the basic SEL skills. When children are engaged in play or attempting to dress or undress themselves, be encouraging. Praise the effort. Encouragement lays the foundation for self-motivation. In the early years, organization refers to simple acts like sorting by color and size, collecting leaves, or helping with weekly room clean-up, etc. Simple things.

As we said earlier, SEL is a continuum, and making a collection of fall leaves at age 3 helps prepare the toddler’s brain for making a checklist and managing a calendar as school years get under way.

Working with SEL Partners in Pittsburgh

At TEIS Early Intervention, we work with many partners throughout the Pittsburgh area. When it comes to social emotional learning, one of our partners is Shady Lane School.

Shady Lane School is located on North Braddock Avenue in Pittsburgh. Shady Lane is a racially diverse, high-quality school serving children 6 weeks to 5 years. They help children learn the value of living, learning, and playing in relationship with others. Shady Lane programs are designed to promote the development of healthy, positive and nurturing individuals. This approach supports future learning and growth.

Shady Lane’s staff and educators take great pride in creating a school where educators listen, parents participate, and children thrive and flourish. Their educational program responds to the individual strengths and developmental needs of each child. In the process, the educators at Shady Lane help children grow as an individuals, in relationship with others and the worlds of materials and ideas.

Watch our video on Shady Lane School in the bod on the right, or by visiting this link:

Early Intervention Therapies

Do you feel as if your child is falling behind with social emotional learning (SEL)?

If your child seems to have a developmental delay, there is a great deal of help and many resources you can call upon. Ask your pediatrician about Early Intervention therapies from TEIS Early Intervention.

At TEIS Early Intervention, our therapists listen to your concerns, assess your child’s individual needs, develop a customized treatment plan, and educate you along the way on simple routine-based solutions to maximize your child’s development in their natural environment.

Early Intervention evaluations and therapy services are available under the Federal Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities.  Before services can be provided, an independent evaluation of your child must be completed. To assure impartiality, one agency offers evaluation services while another provides the therapeutic services

To learn more, call TEIS Early Intervention at 412-271-8347 or visit our Contact Us page to get help today.