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Growth & Development


Social and emotional development encompass both intrapersonal skills (i.e. understanding and managing one’s own emotions) and interpersonal skills (i.e. the ability to effectively verbally and non-verbally communicate with other people), as it looks at the child’s experience, demonstration, and control of emotions and the capacity to create meaningful and reciprocal relationships with others.


The main characteristics of social and emotional development in a child include:

  • Recognizing and comprehending both his or her own feelings as well as others

  • Coping with deep emotions and expressing them in a productive way

  • Regulating their behaviour

  • Developing and preserving connections with people

It is important to note that social and emotional development is a lengthy process and children continue with development in this domain well into the teenage years and at times into young adulthood







 ... if a child is experiencing any of the following, consider this a red flag:


0-9 months

Lack of response to sounds
Lack of expression/smile in response to others/responds to others in an atypical way
Avoids close contact
Inability to self-soothe or calm themselves

9-12 months

Lack of interest in peer
Great difficulty waiting for something
Rigidity in regards to routine, clothing, toys, food, etc.
Little to no eye contract
Lack of imitation to simple actions
Lack of response to his or her name
Lack of shared attention between two people on an item
Lack of ability for turn-taking in games

Responds in the same way with familiar people and strangers

1-2 years

Moves from one activity to another and only stays at an activity for a brief time
Requires support to stay on task
Lack of ability to show/explain objects to others
Frustration when changes occur
Lack of interest in objects and/or activities in which peers are engaging
Lack of initiation of self-play

2-3 years

Lack of interest in pretend play
Difficulty with separation from caregiver
Lack of initiation or response to interactions with peers
Prefers to play in a different area than peers
Lack of symbolical use of objects
Lack of participation in group activities
Unusual expression in intensity of aggression
Displays severe fears that hinder daily living

3-5 years

Lack of initiation or joining in play with peers
Lack of sharing with peers
Lack of cooperative play skills e.g. group decisions, role duties, just play
Inability to select own friends
Demonstrates dependency on caregivers for majority of needs and wants
Demonstrates passivity or fearfulness that limits engagement with activities in which

peers are participating



Services and Information related to Social/Emotional Development:

Having more general concerns about a child's development?

Having difficulty coping? Need some advice?

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