Social Emotional Development (Children)

Your child's social and emotional development — also known as their mental health, or how they manage emotions and relate to others — is as important as physical health. Social and emotional development is not as obvious as physical health, but it is vital for future success in school and in life.

Publications on Social Emotional Development

Order free Health Department guides for parents or caregivers by calling 311.

Three age-specific guides are available:

  • Babies/infants: Enjoy Your Baby: Building Healthy Foundations for a Lifetime of Success
  • Toddlers/preschoolers: Promoting Your Child's Social and Emotional Development: A Guide for Parents of One-to-Five-Year-Olds
  • School-age children: Promoting Your Child's Social and Emotional Development: A Guide for Parents of Five-to-Ten-Year-Olds

Why It Matters

Your child's social and emotional development affects every part of his or her life. Children who develop good social and emotional skills:

  • Make and keep friends.
  • Understand and express emotions.
  • Are ready for school.
  • Think clearly and learn new things.

You Can Make a Difference

Your love and attention are as important as food and a place to live. When you talk to and listen to your child, encourage them to make good friends and praise their good behavior, you are helping your child develop socially and emotionally.

How to Get Help

Get health information, developmental screenings and referrals from your pediatrician or family doctor. Call 311 for a doctor near you. For mental health referrals and help for you and your child, call 311 or contact NYC Well.

NYC Early Childhood Clinics

These clinics offer specialized mental health treatment services and support for young children (from birth to 5 years of age) and their families using evidence-based and trauma-focused therapies.

To get a referral: