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Child Development Tracker

Home » 4 to 5 »

Social and Emotional Growth

Supporting Activities

Mister Rogers

This classic game helps kids develop self-control while learning to follow the rules. Simon Says

Use this chart to give your child a sense of pride in his or her inner growth. Kids Grow Inside, Too!

Jay Jay

Encourage kids to be kind to friends and to empathize with others Caring and Sharing


Share personal feelings using shapes and language. Talk about Feelings

Books for Your Child

Reading to children every day is a great way for them to learn new skills. Try these great read aloud books for preschoolers.

The significance of social and emotional development is seen in every area of a child's life. A child will have a strong foundation for later development if he or she can manage personal feelings, understand others' feelings and needs, and interact positively with others. Differences in social and emotional development result from a child's inborn temperament, cultural influences, disabilities, behaviors modeled by adults, the level of security felt in a child's relationships with adults, and the opportunities provided for social interaction.

Four-year-olds continue to learn what causes certain feelings, and realize that others may react to the same situation differently. They have learned to better manage intense emotions with coping strategies like talking it out or drawing a picture. Four-year-olds also show further progress in their social interactions with peers, such as by smoothly joining in a group play situation, being sympathetic to others, or suggesting ways to resolve conflicts.

Emotional Development

  • Uses adults as trusted role models (e.g., imitates a teacher's way of reading a story to the class). Is better able to tolerate the absence of familiar adults; copes with distress through the use of language, drawing, etc. (e.g., says, "I'm going to draw a picture of Mama and Papa for when they get home.").

  • Increasingly expresses a sense of self in terms of abilities, characteristics, preferences, and actions (e.g., says, "Look at me! I'm building a castle!"). Compares self to others (e.g., says, "Maria can ride a bike, but I'm still learning.").

  • Continues to gain an understanding of the causes of feelings, and that others may feel differently about the same situation (e.g., says, "I want to play on the swings, but Theo doesn't.").

  • Learns coping strategies (e.g., using words, pretend play, drawing) to establish greater control and competence in managing intense emotions (e.g., after going to the emergency room, he or she may repeatedly play out the experience with dolls and stuffed animals).

Social Development

  • Successfully enters a group of children (e.g., says, "Hey! I can be the grandma who comes to visit!"). Begins and sustains pretend play in a cooperative group (says, "Let's play that we're going on a trip. I'll be the pilot and you guys be on the plane.").

  • Shows further progress in developing friendships with peers, even if a bond is formed with just one other child. Begins to try to please other children (e.g., says, "You can come to my birthday, OK?").

  • Responds more appropriately and sympathetically to peers who are in need, upset, hurt, or angry (e.g., says, "Don't cry, Willy. My daddy can fix that bike. He knows how.").

  • Suggests solutions to problems with other children, while continuing to seek adults' help (e.g., says, "Hey, Benjamin! We can BOTH be the daddies!").

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