National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Children Ages Four to Fove Years

Social and Emotional Milestones Examples of Typical Social and Emotional Development Examples of Risk Factors for Potential Social and Emotional Concerns
Social Development- Attachment:
  • Acts out roles with other children
  • Enjoys cooperative activities
  • Easily participates in individual, small, and large groups
  • Makes up imaginary games and may invite others to play
  • The first two weeks of preschool, the teacher regularly has the children act out how to follow the classroom rules using role plays with eachother.
  • During circle time, all children sit together and participate in songs and activities. After circle time, Kim, Sanjay, and Sara choose to play at the discovery table. They put on smocks and begin playing. Juan and Tommy decide to go to the block area. They quickly get out the blocks and begin building together. Carla and Melissa go to the computer center and work independently on two separate computers. Macy, Harold, and Marcie go to the writing center to work with the teaching assistant on writing their names.
  • Four-year-old Leo rarely joins in with activities occurring in the classroom. He often talks quietly to himself, but his teachers and peers cannot understand his speech patterns. If given the choice, Leo would spend all of his time sitting in a quiet part of the room running a toy train across the windowsill. His behavior is often reported by the teachers as being unpredictable. Sometimes he will get up and move if asked by a peer or teacher and other times he might lash out by, scratching those closest to him.
Emotional Development- Self-Regulation:
  • Recognizes differences in others (e.g., race, disability, height, weight)
  • Expresses and array of emotions with increasing control
  • Is aware of own feelings as well as the feelings of others
  • Verbalizes feelings
  • Shows empathy for others
  • Each morning during circle time, the teachers allow each child to ask a question or share something they have been thinking about. Today, Finn shares that he saw someone in a wheelchair today on the way to school. He asks the teacher, “Why were they rolling instead of walking?” The teacher explains that sometimes people have something happen to their legs so they can’t walk very well. She asks if any of the children have ever seen anyone in a wheelchair before. Will shares that his grandpa rides in a wheel chair, and Lydia says that her uncle has one too. The next day the teacher brings in a wheelchair for the children to look at and explore.
  • When the children are playing a game, an argument begins between several children over who should go first. When the teacher sees this, she asks the three children to go to the problem solving table until they can come up with a solution to their problem. After a few moments they decide that Evie should go first because it was her idea to play the game, Kareem should go next because he asked to play with Evie first, and So-Yung should go last because he was the last to ask to play. The teacher asked if everyone was happy with that solution. All nodded yes and ran off to play.
  • Mary (4 1/2 years) often engages in outbursts inside and out of the classroom. When other children get too close in proximity to her play she will push the other child away. If a child comes too close or gets a toy from her, she will often tantrums for up to 10 minutes, and she often has to be removed to a safe area of the playground or classroom for the safety of her and others. Afterwards, she shows little to no remorse for what she has done. When her teacher asks her why she is doing this, she generally replies, “He (or she) was taking my things.”




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Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development National Center for Effective Mental Health Consultation