Stages of social development in children : Social Development

Stages of social development in children

Social and emotional development in babies and children

By Alex Brooks |

It is easier to understand how important physical growth and development is for kids – but what about the emotional development? When our kids grow taller, or learn to walk, it’s so obvious to see. Yet when our kids understand how to share, take turns or make their own friends, it’s often not noticed. In fact, we’re more likely to notice the lack of social and emotional skills in our children than how accomplished they become as they grow.

The emotional aspect of development relates to a child understanding and controlling their internal emotions while balancing external social elements of interacting with other people and family.

Healthy social and emotional development allows children to:

  • Develop relationships
  • Master the ability to initiate, discover, play and learn
  • Develop persistence and attention
  • Self-regulate their behaviour
  • Develop emotional range

What is social and emotional development?

The development of the social and emotional health of a child is essential to his appropriate behaviour, understanding of life and transition to adulthood. Social emotional development helps shape a child into what he will become later in life by teaching proper reactions to emotional matters. Social skills are all about a child's ability to cooperate and play with others, paying attention to adults and teachers, and making reasonable transitions from activity to activity. Emotional development is the process of learning how to understand and control emotions.

The eight stages of social and emotional development from baby to adult

The developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson argued that the emotional and social development of a human being takes place in eight phases, "the eight stages of man." The first four stages deal with early childhood's emotional and social development.

First stage: Hope (up to two)

Learning Basic Trust Versus Basic Mistrust:
If a baby and toddler is nurtured, and loved, he will develop trust and security and a basic optimism. Badly handled, he becomes insecure and mistrustful.

Second stage: Will (18 months – four)

Learning Autonomy Versus Shame:
Erikson believes social and emotional development occurs as people reach “psychosocial crisis” and are prompted into the next stage of development. The well-adjusted child emerges from this stage sure of himself, elated with his new found control, and proud rather than ashamed. The early part of this psychosocial crisis, includes facing up to self- will, tantrums, stubbornness, and negativism. So the two year old yelling "NO!" every second of the day is going through his entry into the second stage of social and emotional development, according to Erikson. Mothers know this is annoying, but you can take heart that it’s a sign of emotional and social development.

Third stage: Purpose (three – six)

Learning Initiative Versus Guilt:

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