Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Social and Emotional Development

A Brief Overview1

The social environment that parents provide for their children plays a very important role in the development of a child’s social and emotional skills during the early and middle childhood years.

Young children vary tremendously in their ability to deal with stressful situations. Some children seem to cope very well with stressful situations. Other children are very sensitive to stressful situations and may have trouble when reacting to them. These children may need additional support to deal with stress. The reasons some children deal well with stress and others do not are varied. Some different factors involved include genetics, a child’s earlier experiences and support received from parents, and the type of environment in which the child grows up.

It is important to learn to recognize signs of atypical development in the social and emotional domains, because these are areas where intervention can be effective to improve the social and emotional lives, and mental health of children.

Parents have a tremendous impact on the social and emotional development and overall well-being of their child. Raising parents’ awareness on this topic is very important, in light of recent findings2 pointing out how the roots of some mental health conditions, including sociopathy may be traced back to the early childhood years.

Dorothy Law Nolte’s beautiful poem summarizes the role of early experiences in children’s social and emotional development.

1. see References
2. see References

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