During the pre-kindergarten years, children are learning very quickly. While children at this age may have short attention spans, they often learn best by being read to, playing pretend and observing others, especially you. By setting a strong example, you can show your child how to be socially and emotionally intelligent.
Your child should be able to use words like sad or happy to talk about their feelings. Your child should also start to explain why your child feels sad or happy in specific cases. For example, your child may be able to tell you that going to preschool or visiting friends and family makes their feel happy.
At the ages of three and four, your child is likely to increase the words she uses to describe her feelings. She also has likes and dislikes, and her own unique personality. Your child is learning more about herself, and part of building that self-awareness is learning her strengths and weaknesses as well.
Keep in mind that every child develops at his own pace. Maurice Elias, director of the Social-Emotional Learning Lab at Rutgers University, recommends being watchful without overly worrying, as preschoolers are extremely different in their rate of development and your child may even excel in one area and lag in another. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact your healthcare provider or your child's teacher or school counselor.
Learn more about how to support your preschooler with our pre-K self-awareness tips page.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Anne Morrison, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, Lycée Français de New York; Maurice Elias, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab; and Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids.