Kindergarten  Social & Emotional Development

During these early elementary years, when children are in a formal school setting, they’re interacting with more peers and adults. This increased exposure to others begins to broaden their understanding of the world. Children at this age are developing the ability to identify their feelings and what causes them. They are also learning how to manage their emotions and behave appropriately. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Keep in mind every child develops at her own pace. If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact your healthcare provider or your child’s teacher or school counselor, or visit our additional resources page.

Social & Emotional Development


At this young age, your child may have a hard time saying exactly what she is feeling. She may be upset without quite having the vocabulary or the self-awareness to fully explain her emotions. Self-awareness is the ability to accurately recognize feelings and understand how they relate to behavior. For example, she may know what it feels like to be mad or sad, but not angry, embarrassed, ashamed, or disappointed. Or she may feel sad, but not know why. 

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Self-management is built on a foundation of self-awareness. If your child can accurately identify his feelings and how they drive his behaviors, he will be better-able to act on those feelings. Self-management allows your child to develop his ability to control his behavior and mood, which can be very empowering. Also part of self-management is the ability to set and work toward goals. 

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Social Awareness

Social awareness is the ability to take the perspectives of others and apply it to your interactions with them. It is also being aware of socially acceptable behavior. For example, in the United States, when a person meets someone, they shake hands; in other cultures a greeting could be a bow or kiss. At this early age, children are learning how to interact with others and how to recognize their feelings and needs, although they may not yet know how to apply empathy to all of their interactions. 

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Relationship Skills

Having good relationship skills is simply the ability to make and keep rewarding relationships with friends, family, and others from a wide range of backgrounds. The art of relationships includes communicating clearly, cooperating and offering help when needed. Most children enhance their social management skills through their interactions and relationships with others, but parents can help them nurture these abilities.

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Responsible Decision-Making

Everyone, no matter what age, has to make decisions. For kindergartners, making the transition from having a parent make all decisions to being in school and making decisions on her own can be challenging. Older children may be used to making some decisions without your input. Decisions can be small, like what to wear in the morning, or big, like whether or not to cheat on a test.

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Parents' Guide

Research has shown that those with high emotional intelligence have better attention skills and fewer learning problems, and are generally more successful in academic and workplace settings. We offer the following examples as a guide to help you continue to be a strong, positive influence on your child's social and emotional growth, and to reflect your own skills in the process.

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Other Kindergarten Growth Charts

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