SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE IN CHILDREN: Family/child relationships help children develop the ability to recognize and regulate their emotions, express themselves and interact with others.

social and emotional competence

Relationships shape young children’s learning. From infancy, parent–child and family relationships guide and motivate children’s love for discovery and learning and provide a secure foundation for the growth of exploration and self-confidence (California Preschool Curriculum Framework, 2010, Vol. 1, p.6). 

One of the best skills that caregivers can develop with their children is the ability to experience, express, and manage emotions, communicate needs, and establish positive and rewarding relationships. Caregivers who can model these skills and provide space to develop and practice these skills are building resilience in their family. 

Here are a few strategies you can implement today:

emotion wheel

Emotion Wheel & Breathing (taken from


  1. Hang the wheel somewhere where children can see it throughout the day.
  2. Before bed each night sit with your child in a comfortable position and take three slow mindful breaths.
  3. Ask your child what they are feeling and where they are feeling it, i.e. “I feel angry and it feels like lava in my belly”
  4. Tell them that it is ok to have those feelings and that you are proud they can express how they feel.
  5. Then take three slow mindful breaths with them. 
  6. Ask if the feelings have changed or if their body feels different.
  7. Continue until the child reports feeling at ease.

child smiling5 Senses

Stop what you are doing and take one big breath

  • Name 5 things you can see
  • Name 4 things you can feel
  • Name 3 things you can hear
  • Name 2 things you can smell
  • Name 1 thing you can taste


child during mealtime

Mealtime Prompts 


While you are eating a snack or a meal ask each member to share their answer to a selected prompt, ideas below:

  • What is something you have done that made you feel brave?
  • If you could meet any famous person and ask them questions, who would it be and what would you ask?
  • What is something you learned how to do this year?
  • What words would a friend use to describe you?
  • What is one kind thing you have done today?


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For information on protective factors and the Strengthening Families™ approach, email [email protected] or call 1-800-481-2151.



Take a look at the Key Protective Factors at a glance HERE.