​Teaching social and emotional skills

Children have a lot to learn about managing their own feelings and behaviour, including:

  • identifying and naming feelings
  • how to deal with strong feelings
  • resolving conflict and solving problems
  • how to deal with being angry.

Children also have a lot to learn about getting on with others, including:

  • recognising other people's feelings
  • how to join in, take turns, and other group skills
  • how to be kind and look after others
  • how behaviour affects others
  • developing empathy.

Read below how you can build social and emotional learning every day. Download the content from this page: Teaching social and emotional skills (PDF, 72KB).

At home
At child care, kindergarten and school
Resources

At home​

At home, every day you can:

  • be a positive role model of what you would like your child to do
  • name your child's feelings for them regularly
  • talk to children about your own feelings
  • talk about things other people do and how they might feel
  • build up a language of pro-social behaviour by talking about taking turns, sharing, helping, looking after others, etc.
  • point out when you notice your child making an effort to get on with other children
  • use social problems, like fights, to talk about and teach social problem solving skills
  • point out stories of positive social behaviour as well as antisocial behaviour from personal experience, current events, movies, books
  • download and use The Allen Adventure free app for Apple iOS and Android devices.

At child care, kindergarten and school

At child care, kindergarten and school, every day you can:

  • be a positive role model of what you would like the children to do
  • build up a class 'language' of feelings and pro-social behaviour by naming social and emotional skills and referring to them regularly
  • use naturally occurring activities to talk about social and emotional skills
  • integrate social and emotional skills into the daily curriculum
  • teach the behaviour that is expected in class explicitly, in the playground, in small groups, at transition times during the day, etc.
  • ensure children know the consequences for behaviour that is inappropriate and ensure these consequences are applied consistently
  • teach social problem solving skills explicitly and build up a class language of social problem-solving
  • use social conflict and problems, like fights, to talk about and teach social problem solving skills
  • provide additional help to those children who need support to learn social, emotional, behavioural and social problem solving skills
  • use a range of resources: personal stories, art, drama, discussion of current events, movies, photos, books and technology to explore positive social behaviour
  • ensure you use only evidence-based and appropriate resources, for example, if you use a specific social-emotional learning (SEL) program
  • download and use The Allen Adventure free app for Apple iOS and Android devices.

Resources

Websites

Visit the Bullying. No Way! Early childhood resources page for activities and videos for early childhood teaching and learning.

Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning website aims to establish social and emotional learning as an integral part of education.

Early Years Learning Framework describes the principles and practice to support and enhance young children's learning from birth to five years of age, as well as their transition to school.

Kids Matters Early Childhood is a whole-service framework designed specifically for early education and care services.

Parent Line's website provides an overview of some of the many parenting courses available in Australia and internationally. These programs can help you learn the skills to teach social and emotional skills, and support positive behaviour.

Raising children network, the Australian parenting site.

Reading for adults

The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) promotes the social emotional development and school readiness of young children birth to age 5.

Early Childhood Australia. (2004). Understanding Children's feelings: Emotional Literacy in Early Childhood. Research in Practice Series, Vol 11 No 4.

Flory, V. (2005) Your child's emotional needs: what they are and how to meet them. Finch Publishing, Sydney.

The best way to discipline your kids. Drake Baer. Science of Us, New York Magazine (US), 2016

Caring about caring: what adults can do to promote young children's prosocial skills. Hyson, J., Taylor, J. in Young Children, July 2011.

Kids Matter Families – Information sheets on emotions, friendship, behaviour and other topics.

Kidspot: Teaching your child resilience

Dr Louise Porter's website provides information about developmental milestones and other topics.

Books to read with young children

Early Childhood Australia. (2004). Understanding Children's Feelings: Emotional Literacy in Early Childhood. Research in Practice Series, Vol 11 No 4 (includes a list of children's books about emotions)

Books About Feelings for Babies and Toddlers. Zero to Three, National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families (US).

Children's Book List from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL).

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