Milestones in Social & Emotional Development

 

 

Age

Domain

Behavioral Examples

0-2 month

social

helpless; asocial; fed by parent

 

sensory

makes basic distinctions in vision, hearing, smelling, tasting, touch, temperature and perception of pain

 

reflexes

sucking, swallowing, crying, hiccoughing, grasping, pupillary contraction

2-3 mos.

Emotional

delight; distress; smiles at a face

 

social

visually fixates a face; smiles at a face; may be soothed by rocking

 

motor

control of eye muscles, lifts head when on stomach

3-4 mos.

Social

Infant communication by crying

   

Smiles spontaneously to mother's face, voice, smile

   

Responds to person-to-person contact with adults and children

   

enjoys being cuddled

 

Play

Practice play begins with sensory exploration of own body Repeats satisfying bodily actions (e.g. movement, vocalizations)

 

Emotional

Joy (delight), distress (frustration or pain), surprise, interest

 

motor

begins to control head and arm movement; purposive grasping,

4-9 mos.

Social

Enjoys being near people and played with

   

no longer smiles indiscriminately

   

Responds gaily to play interactions with others

   

Cries, smiles, kicks, coos, laughs to attract social attention

   

Responds differently to strangers (stranger anxiety-8 mos.)

   

Shouts for attention (8 mos.); rejects confinement

   

Cries if other child cries

 

Play

Learns that actions affect objects by manipulating objects

   

Grasps dangling toys within reach

   

Shakes/bangs toys/spoons to make different sounds

   

Uncovers hidden toy

   

Plays a "game" with adult assistance

   

Fights for disputed toy (9 mos.)

 

Emotions

Enjoyment, protest, fear, anger, humor, teases, shyness

Specific attachment to mother (or primary caregiver)

 

Sensory

Localizes to sound

10-12 mos.

Social

Pays attention to his/her own name

   

Recognizes different tones of voice and responds

   

Able to interpret the emotional expression of familiar adults

   

Copies simple actions of others

   

Recognizes himself as an individual apart from mother

   

Learning to cooperate; shows guilt at wrongdoing

   

Actively seeks to maintain interactions with adult

   

Tries to alter mother's plans through persuasion or protest

   

Displays separation anxiety when apart from mother

   

Developing a sense of humor

   

Teases and tests parental limits

   

Can demonstrate affection

   

Discriminates positive and negative attention

 

Language

One or Two words; imitates sounds

responds to simple commands

 

Play

Applies learned movements to new situations

   

Stacks rings on a peg

   

Holds crayon - imitating scribbling

   

Attempts to play with another child

   

Rolls ball in imitation of adult

 

Emotional

Stranger anxiety

fear, affection, persuasion, protest, guilt,

   

Curiosity

   

Exploration

1-2 years

Social

Recognizes self in mirror or picture and refers to self by name

   

Beginning to become independent

   

Cooperates by helping to put things away

   

May become angry if activities are interrupted

   

Responds to simple commands by adult

   

Begins to realize that can't have everything own way

   

Social relationships with other children are awkward

   

May hit, bite or fight over a toy

   

Engages in social laughter

   

Shows anger through aggressive behavior

 

Emotional

Separation anxiety is most severe in 12-18 mos.

13-18 mos.

Play

Engages in experimentation and ritualized play

   

Solitary or onlooker play

   

Plays by self, imitating own play, initiates own play

   

Deliberately throws/drops toys and watches them fall

     

19-24 mos.

 

Emergence of symbolic play

   

Rides a broom for a horse; plays house

   

Imitates adult behaviors in play

   

Moves (dances to music)

   

Begins to play with other children

 

Emotions

Almost complete store of emotional expressions

   

Temper tantrums often begin to become more "intense"

2 years

Social

Differential facial expression reflect emotional range

Defends own possessions but is beginning to share

   

Asks for wants

   

Knows gender identity

   

Participates in simple group activity - singing, dancing

   

Little interaction with other children

   

Mother continues to be very important to child

   

Sometimes makes special friend by age 3

 

Play

Parallel play or onlooker play

   

Imaginative play

   

Symbolically uses objects and self in play (plays house)

   

Beginning cooperative play

   

Enjoys imitating mother and using miniature equipment

   

Participates in simple group activities

 

Emotional

Gentle, friendly person

   

Expresses affection warmly

   

Emotionally calm, sure, balanced

   

Lovable, engaging, enthusiastic, and appreciative

 

(at 2 1/2)

Explosive, tense, rigid, insecure, easily frustrated

   

Ritualistic, routine

   

Screams, throws temper tantrums for little cause

     

3 years

Social

Friends becoming more interesting than adults

   

Shares toys, takes turns with assistance

   

Uses "I, me, you"

   

Beginning to learn to take responsibility

   

Shows affection for younger siblings

   

Associative group play begins

 

Play

Joins in play with other children (associative play)

   

Begins dramatic play - acting out whole scenes

   

Uses imaginative play with dolls

   

Enjoys imaginary companions

   

Often silly in play, doing things wrong purposefully

 

Emotional

Interprets emotions from facial expressions and intonation

   

Calm, collected, secure, capable, friendly

   

Interested in other children's feelings

   

Conforms easily, eager to please

   

Developing ability to stand frustration; emotions in control

 

(at 3 1/2)

Insecure, anxious, often bossy

   

Self-willed, refuses to obey

   

Inconsistent in behaviors

   

Genital exploration

4 years

Social

Plays and interacts with other children

   

Improving in turn-taking and cooperating

   

Spurred on by rivalry in activity

   

Understands social problem solving

   

Shows interest in exploring sex differences

   

Developing self-responsibility; enjoys doing things for self

   

Plays outside with little supervision; likes to be trusted

   

Sense of property is developing

   

Still home and mother-oriented

 

Play

Prefers play with other children to play with adults

Dramatic play closer to reality

   

Plays dress-up; very imaginative with self and others

   

Loves adventure and anything new

   

Plays in groups of 2-5 children

Imaginary fears may develop (dark, injury, etc.)

 

Emotional

Exhibits definite personality

   

Shows concern and sympathy

   

Calm, secure, balanced

   

Loves adventure, excitement, anything new

 

(at 4 1/2)

Bosses and criticizes; exaggerates and boasts

   

Extremes in behaviors: loves a lot, hates a lot

   

May lie and use profanity

   

Romantic attachment to parent of opposite sex

Responsibility and guilt

5 years

Social

Wants to do what is expected

   

Respects reasonable authority

   

Willing to play with most other children in the class

   

Engages with other children in cooperative play; fair play

   

Engages with other children in role assignments

   

Chooses own friends; friendships change rapidly

   

One or two best friends of same sex

   

Awareness of sex roles begins

 

Play

Plays simple table games; competitive games

   

Plays games with rules

   

Plays in small groups, not too highly organized

   

Play changes rapidly

 

Emotional

Enjoys life, secure; secure; consistently sunny and happy

   

Self-limiting, protects self from over-stimulation

   

Expresses emotions freely and openly

 

(at 5 1/2)

Quarrels are frequent, short duration, forgotten quickly

   

Anger outbursts are frequent; ready to disobey

   

Jealousy among classmates is common

   

Hesitant, dawdling, over-demanding, explosive

   

Extremes: shy/bold, affectionate/antagonistic

   

Independence from parents