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Fostering Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children (U.S. Department of Education) Available in Spanish


All children are born with the need and desire to connect with those around them. Neuroscience tells us that brain development unfolds rapidly in the first three years of life, and that social and emotional development begins in the earliest days of life. When children feel secure in their relationships and have their needs met in responsive and consistent ways, they begin forming strong social and emotional foundations. They begin to learn to pay attention, regulate their emotions and behavior, express feelings, and overcome challenges successfully. All of these skills contribute to healthy social and emotional development.

Many parents and caregivers, as well as teachers and early learning providers, are eager for information and resources on how to connect with babies and toddlers, manage young children's behavior, and help children develop relationships, regulate their behavior and emotions, and talk about their feelings. When the adults in children's lives have appropriate expectations of children's development at different ages, they have greater success—and much less frustration—with young children.

Building on prior successful partnerships to promote early brain and language development and early STEM education, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have joined with Too Small to Fail to release a Social and Emotional Toolkit on social and emotional development. All of the resources feature examples of simple actions to take, some of which caregivers might be doing already, such as maintaining consistent routines for young children.


Communication/Language Developmental Delay Early Childhood Early Intervention Infants & Toddlers Literacy Math Parent/Family Preschool Professional Resources Science