The preschool years (ages 3-5) of a kid are highly crucial for the development of social and emotional skills. As the little one grows, they start perceiving their environment and develop an understanding of the behaviors of familiar people. It’s fascinating for parents as well as kids to experience such developmental milestones. Although each kid is a unique individual, almost every little one starts their social and emotional learning (SEL) during the preschool period. A growing body of scientific evidence confirms that children who acquire a strong emotional foundation skill in the early years can better manage everyday social interactions later in life.


Let’s split this up for a better understanding. Social development means that your kids start developing healthy relationships with peers, family members, and friends. 

Emotional development means that kids become aware of their thoughts and feelings as well as others. They develop sympathy, care, feelings of affection, and a sense of belonging towards people. So combining the two, social-emotional skills development is all about how kids learn to manage their feelings and healthily interact with others.

For the kids of preschool years, there are certain developmental milestones that they achieve at a certain age. To be clear, kids don’t need to achieve those milestones at that exact time. Each kid is unique and they learn things at their own pace. You can keep these milestones as guidelines to be prepared for what to expect as the behavioral modification in your kids. 

Starts playing with peoplePretends to be something else during play (teacher, superhero, dog)Follows the rules or takes turns when playing games with other children
Copy adults and friendsAsks to play with children if no one is around, like “Can I play with Alex?” Sings, dances, or acts for you
Observe other kidsComforts others who are hurt or sad, like hugging a crying friendDoes simple chores at home, like matching socks or clearing the table after eating
Show affection towards their friendsAvoid danger, like not jumping from tall heights at the playgroundCan tell you their first and last name and age
Gets concerned for their friends cryingLikes to be a “helper”Have gender awareness
Calms down within 10 minutes when you leave themChanges behavior based on where she is (place of worship, library, playground)Can tell what’s real and what’s not
May get upset with changed routineCan dress and undress themselvesShow more independence


Remember, how fast kids learn things can vary by culture. Respecting these differences helps you understand how families raise their preschoolers.


The development of social and emotional skills in preschoolers depends highly on their learning environments. As kids learn things by directly observing their parents, young people, and others, they imitate what they see. So parents, teachers, and other caregivers play a major role in integrating SEL- competencies in kids. 

Babies who get comfort and attention when they’re upset grow into toddlers who can express themselves well and manage their emotions. It’s all about listening and responding to their needs.

You can enhance the social and emotional competencies of your kids by:

  1. Providing them with positive feedback on little achievements.
  2. Offer stimulating materials.
  3. Happily play with them.
  4. Identify their interests and help them do what they love to do.
  5. Plan meaningful opportunities for them to learn academic social and emotional learning. They may include storytelling, observing, taking part in activities, actively engaging in responsibilities, etc.

As preschoolers, you might have enrolled your kids in a daycare center preschool program. This helps a lot in building social-emotional skills in preschoolers. The classrooms are the places where a child develops many skills, makes friends, learns a lot of new things, etc. Those preschool classrooms must integrate sel instructions to help kids succeed in school. These steps may include:

  1. A visibly posted classroom where kids know that they are expected to respect each other and show positive behavior.
  2. Giving each kid a chance to express their thoughts and ideas for educational equity. They should be given equal opportunities for taking responsibility and making contributions to classroom maintenance.
  3. Showing positive feedback to enhance student’s social and emotional learning skills.
  4. Celebrating your holidays as well as others to raise awareness among kids.
  5. Get the kids involved in community events so they learn that they can make a difference in the world (e.g., recycling, sharing, helping others).


Social-emotional learning skills mean that your little ones can socialize with others, show empathy towards them, and understand their emotions.

Evidence-based researches show that during preschool years, kids develop these skills rapidly. So you should pay extra attention to your kids at that time.

All the SEL programs help kids better able to understand their emotions and those of others and socialize with others. 

You as a parent, teacher, or caregiver play an important part in the collaborative academic and SEL of your kid. So it’s important to engage yourself actively throughout this period for a better development of social and emotional skills in your little preschooler.


  1. https://www.unicef.org/northmacedonia/learning-social-and-emotional-skills-pre-school.
  2. https://www.edutopia.org/article/social-and-emotional-skill-progression-in-preschool/.
  3. https://www.virtuallabschool.org/preschool/social-and-emotional-development/lesson-2.