Middle Childhood Intervention 6-12:

Category — 4.5 Ten to Twelve: Social/Emotional Skills

Social/Emotional Skills

Children’s social/emotional skills should be developing quite well during the ages between 10 and 12. Most children this age have a good sense of self and should have a positive self-esteem. Children at this age care a great deal about what others, especially peers, think of them. Difficulties with social/emotional skills should be monitored very closely, because they can and do influence all other developmental domains. This is also the time when some anxiety disorders start to develop in children. It is very important to be aware of the signs of such disorders, in order to take action as soon as possible.


When it comes to social skills, there are warning signs of delays. A child may:

  • not take turns, even when asked to do so;
  • not share, even when asked to do so;
  • have no friends;
  • have no “best” or “favorite” friend;
  • not get invited to gatherings and birthday parties;
  • be unable to see another person’s point of view;
  • take things that do not belong to him or her without asking for permission first;
  • not return borrowed items, despite knowing that he or she should;
  • steal from others;
  • threaten or bully others;
  • hit, kick or bite others;
  • vandalize property;
  • be persuaded to join a gang; that is, a group of youth and young adults involved in illegal activities; for example, painting unwanted graffiti, riding stolen cars, carrying knives and other weapons, and end up being in trouble with the law
  • constantly ignore and break curfews (see full Glossary);
  • avoid social situations;
  • prefer to be alone all the time (Fig. 1);
  • be very fidgety (see full Glossary) in social situations;
  • not offer comfort to those who need it;
  • not offer to help to those who need it;
  • be seen by peers as “weird” or “odd”;
  • struggle with cause and effect.


Figure 1. Preferring to be alone


When it comes to emotional skills, there are warning signs of delays. A child may:

  • not have good impulse control (that is, they seem to react to certain situations without thinking first);
  • be unable to label how they feel (For example: “I am very angry right now.”);
  • be unable to label the feelings of others (that is, cannot tell when others are sad or hurt by looking at the expression on their faces and/or listening to their tone of voice);
  • not care when someone is hurt, physically or emotionally;
  • seem overly preoccupied by self most of the time (that is, seeming to pay too much attention to self);
  • cry extremely easily;
  • be very shy, to the point of being withdrawn;
  • have nightmares and night terrors (that is, have very severe nightmares after which children wake up crying and sweating);
  • not enjoy hugs and kisses most of the time;
  • appear to have no self-confidence;
  • appear to have very poor self-esteem;
  • cry a lot, many times over routine events and may not be able to explain why;
  • be overly dependent on others; for example, may not start any chore or daily activity at home, like having their meal unless someone prompts him or her to do it;
  • destroy his, hers or others’ property;
  • hurt him or herself, on purpose;
  • not want to sleep alone most of the nights;
  • move very quickly from one emotional state to another (that is, being very sad and then suddenly being very happy);


When it comes to anxiety, there are some warning signs. A child may:

  • have an irrational fear of an object (hair brushes), person (a fireman) or situation (being in an elevator);
  • worry too much (Fig. 2);
  • excessively wash his or her hands;
  • want to touch things in a certain way, on a regular basis and in the same way (for example: to touch all walls in the house before going to sleep)
  • be afraid of things or people that do not exist (for example the boogey man);
  • panic before certain events or situations (for example, before an exam);
  • be constantly worried that something horrible is going to happen;
  • notice even the smallest change in his environment (for example: “Why did you move my clock one inch to the left?”)
  • be unable to go to sleep or get back to sleep;
  • be excessively worried when she has to talk in front of others or present something in class;
  • be worried of failing at school, even though he or she is getting good grades;
  • feel as if his or her heart is beating too fast;
  • constantly sweat and feel nauseous;
  • get suddenly scared of anything for no apparent reason.

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Figure 2. Worrying too much
see References

May 6, 2012   No Comments