Social Emotional Learning in Early Childhood Tool

Picture of emotional young child

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Children can become very angry and frustrated at times, so upset they are almost unable to function. Of course these emotions are part of life but how can we as caring adults help young children cope with big emotions? This tool presents a basic practical framework for understanding social emotional learning in early childhood.

Basic Social Emotional Learning Framework




  • The ability to maintain a mental, emotional and physical state appropriate to the situation at hand.


How well does the child hold it together?

What strategies does the child use to manage emotions?


Social knowledge and Understanding


  • Knowledge of what’s expected in the groups in which one participates.
  • The ability to predict another person’s reaction to events.
  • The ability to understand emotions experienced by others.


Does the child know what is expected?


Social Skills


  • How to organize play “let’s....”
  • How to be a team player/Helpful
  • How to be a turn taker “Reciprocal Interactions”
  • When and how to give compliment or apologize


How well do they play?

Can they make repairs?

How are their friendship skills?

Problem solving skills?

Sources:Bolick T. (2004) “Asperger Syndrome and Young Children” Fair Winds Press, Gloucester MAJoseph G. & Strain P. (2003) “Social emotional teaching strategies "The Center on the Social and Emotion Foundations of Early Learning

Katz L. & McClellan D. (1997) “Fostering Children’s Social Competence: The teacher’s role” NAEYC Washington DC 


Kendra Lewis
Youth & Family Resiliency State Specialist
Assoc State Spec Professor
Phone: (603) 862-2495
Office: Cooperative Extension, Pettee Hall Rm GO5C, Durham, NH 03824