Social Emotional Development (Children)

Your child's social and emotional development — also known as his or her mental health, or how he or she manages emotions and relates 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 him or her to make good friends and praise good behavior, you're 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 NYC Well  at (888) NYC-WELL (888-692-9355).

NYC Early Childhood Clinics

Specialized mental health treatment services and supports for young children (birth to 5 years) and their families using evidence-based and trauma-focused therapies. Call a clinic in your area (PDF) to make a referral or call (888) NYC WELL.