Young Children: from 3-4 years old


How children express and manage their emotions, and how they interact with others and when alone, is generally what is meant by social and emotional development. 

Social and emotional development is concerned with feelings, expectations of others, identity, sense of belonging, personal development, secure relationships, celebrating difference and so much more. From the very moment every child is born, their social-emotional development is affected by the quality of nurturing and positive experiences and relationships around them, and, social-emotional development immediately begins to affect all other areas of development – cognitive, motor and language development.

“Self-regulation is a set of critical skills for preschoolers that affects children socially, behaviorally and academically.  Unfortunately, children often begin (school) without important skills, such as being able to follow directions, stay on task with focused attention and regulate their own emotions using concrete strategies…poor development of self-regulation is linked with aggressive behavior, low academic achievement, delinquency and higher dropout rates. Fortunately, self-regulation skills can be taught during the preschool years and development of these skills happens rapidly.  Children can learn the behavioral strategies  such as regulating emotions, controlling and resisting impulses and exerting self-control – skills essential for social-emotional competence and academic success.” (

Who am I?

  • Young children begin to know their role in the family as well as other roles involved in a family (mother, father and him/her being the only child or how many other siblings are in the household).

Tip:  Have discussions about what makes them special and let them share ideas with others at home about roles and what makes each person special. Try to also encourage All-About-Me activities using drawings, photographs, favourite things, etc.

  •  Young children are becoming more independent and resistant to help. For example, they begin to take responsibility for their own toileting.

Tip: This is the best time to implement such important independent activities as solo-potty training methods, allowing them to exhibit their independence. Let children sing songs and rhymes to reinforce desired behaviours for self-care and hygiene such as singing “This is the Way We Wash Our Hands”.

  • Young children develop a sense of humour and become involved in complicated imaginative play.

Tip: Give young children plenty of time to express themselves on paper and through play. Children this age adore craft and ‘make up games’ and will take every chance they are given to shower you with performances or with tokens of their love in the form of paintings and drawing. Enjoy…

 Who loves me and looks after me?

  • Children show a deep sense of trust to familiar people. The young child is able to link to others for help and shows empathy towards others in need.

Tip: During group activities, allow them to take on roles of leaders and helpers to teach them about caring and helping others. Talk to your child often and about many topics and many people. Should a problem occur with a trusted adult, these established open communication lines make it a little easier to discuss difficult issues.

Who do I love and look after?

  • Young children work towards building friendships. They are more flexible, show self-control and can adapt behaviour to suit different routines and situations.

Tip: At the day care centre, set up learning centres that allow children to manage group dynamics – playing in pairs/groups. At home and with friends and relatives, this can be done too even using safe but recycled household items. Anything that allows for different experiences, for example playing some simple board and card games with them, will give them lots of opportunities to learn how to take turns and share.