How educators can encourage social emotional competence

Social-Emotional Competence

  • Foster an emotional environment in which children feel comfortable expressing emotion and learn to demonstrate empathy through modelling by educators. Max has a strong grasp of language so his educators can encourage him to verbally express his wants and needs. Modelling and prompting may help him navigate many social situations and feel more in control.

  • Talk to the children about what makes them feel sad or happy. With very young children, it is important to demonstrate through actions that you respect their emotions. When Max is exhibiting behaviour such as not wanting to be comforted or by hitting other children in play, discussing feelings using a variety of methods (books, puppets, role play, etc.) can help him to know that there is a way to describe how he feels and that he can feel comfortable doing so.

  • Reinforce positive social interactions such as greeting one another, sharing and taking turns. Max may benefit from small group play where he and one or two other children can experience and partake in turn taking and sharing, receiving positive reinforcement for such actions.

  • Create opportunities for children to strengthen problem solving, both on their own and with peers. It may be found that Max could benefit from his own problem-solving tools, such as a social story that he relates to and is then able to see what types of methods he can use to solve problems such as asking an educator for help or practicing deep breathing.

  • Help to foster a physical environment that sets a child up to explore independently and succeed (i.e. using proper sized tables and chairs, presenting a range of materials and toys allowing for a child to play competently). If Max struggles with independent play, it is important to model and provide enough structure and modelling for him. Again, creating small play groups can be very beneficial in this situation.