Social-Emotional Development In A Child Of 4Yrs Old Essay, Research Paper
Chapter 2- Social – Emotional Development
The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and
stimulating in all creation.
~Ray L. Wilbur~
The typical four year old has a very good sense of humor.
They love being silly and love to tell jokes that make others laugh.
While observing Michael and the class having breakfast in the
cafeteria, Michael and two of his friends were telling jokes.
Boy 1: Knock! Knock!
Michael: Who?s there?
Boy 1: Knock! Knock!
Boy 2: He said who?s there?
Boy 1: Pizza.
Boy 1: Yeah I said pizza.
Michael: Pizza who?
Boy 1: Hmmm (pauses for a moment) I forgot.
Boy 1, Boy 2, and Michael begin to laugh hysterically at one
another. They are laughing so hard that other children around
them begin to laugh as well.
There are many different meanings for the term social
development, but the one thing that is for sure is that it is a long
and ongoing process This process begins in early childhood with
self discovery and results in the ability to interact with others.
During the social – emotional development of a four year old
child, they are still continuing to learn about themselves. Their
sense of identity includes knowledge that they are a boy or girl
(gender) and a member of a particular family, racial, religious or
ethnic group (Mitchell and David, 1992). However, their sense of
self is unstable.
Preschooler?s are aware of how people feel about them. They
want to please adults in their lives and look for approval and
praise. Preschooler?s are also developing new social skills.
Friendships often have a momentary quality, although some
friendships may be quite stable, especially if children have known
each other for a long time (Pica, 1997).
Play and social development go hand and hand. Play offers
many opportunities to be with other children and to share, take
turns, disagree, and compromise (Mitchell and Davis, 1992).
Children enjoy each others company. While at play, they are
increasing their self awareness, and are becoming more involved
in cooperative play.
Emotionally, children develop greater self awareness,
characteristics, and actions. They are also able to predict the
emotions of others. According to Huffnung (1997) children will
develop empathy or the ability to appreciate the feeling of others
and understand their point of view. If one child begins an activity,
it is likely that his friends will want to follow along. Michael was
sitting at the table in the cafeteria eating breakfast and he kept
dropping his napkin on the floor because he knew that the college
student would pick it up for him. Two other boys that were sitting
with him saw what was going on and they started to drop their
napkin on the floor also. This continued for a few moments until
the college student yelled at the boys. She then began to ignore
their behavior and eventually they stopped.
Michael likes to play in a group with his friends. Michael,
another boy and a college student were playing in the block area.
They had a handful of different bugs and the college student
suggested that they build a house for the bugs to live in. Michael
and the boy went to get long blocks to start building the house.
Michael: We need long blocks to build the house.
Boy: Ok I will get them.
Michael: Hey look! This can be a sliding door.
Boy: We need to take the bugs out.
Michael: Go over there and get those long ones so we can
put them on top.
A girl runs over from the snack table and sits down next to
Michael. She grabs a bug and pretends to make it hop from one
level to the next.
Michael: Hey! What are you doing? Stop that we?re not done
Boy: Yeah you cant do that. We need to build a house
for the bugs to live in.
Girl: Can I build with you?
Michael: No! Girls can?t build houses for bugs. No!
College Student: Just because she is a girl Michael doesn?t
mean she can?t play with you and help you
make a house.
Girl: Well he?s not my friend anymore.
Michael and his friend continue to build the house and do
not pay attention to what the college student had said. The girl
however did not get upset and she started building a house in a
different area. Where she was building her house, Michael had an
idea to build a road for the bugs to hop across. The road that they
built connected the two houses together so that everyone could
When Michael and his friends were done building the house
Michael asked the teacher to come over and see what they have
Michael: Teacher! Come look what I built.
Teacher: Wow Michael! That?s a very complex structure.
You did a great job.
Michael: The bugs live there, and look there is a sliding
Teacher: That?s cool.
Michael started to show off his house to his other friends,
and when he saw the college student playing with a group of girls,
he dragged him away to make him look at the house he built.
According to Chaille and Silvern (1995) it is fairly normal for
children to seek out an adult?s approval and praise for their
While observing Michael on the playground, I have noticed that he
is always the one suggesting what to do and where to play. From riding
bikes to climbing up the hill to even sliding down the slide, Michael is
definitely a leader among his group of friends. In the classroom Michael
is the same way. He tells them what to build and how to build it. He
often comes off being bossy, but he does listen to the suggestions of his
friends first before deciding that his way is the correct way.
Play is varied according to the social environment the children are
in. Mildred Parten was a women who studied children between the ages
of two and five. Mildred found that children?s play develops in six stages.
Solitary play is one of the stages that Michael has engaged in.
Solitary play is where the child plays alone with a toy and has no
involvement with other children. Out of all my observations, this was the
one and only time that I saw Michael playing by himself. Michael had
just finished playing a board game with a friend and the college student.
When the game was over he walked over to the lego table and started to
build an airplane. While building, he was singing to himself and moving
his feet under the table to the rhythm of the song.
Another stage of play that Michael has engaged in is parallel play.
This type of play involves two or more children plying with the same toys
in close proximity and with awareness of each others presence, but do
not share toys, talk or interact except in very minimal ways (Hoffnung,
1997). Michael was at the lego table with three of his friends building
houses and towers. Each of them were building there own separate
building in the corner of the lego square. The only time Michael spoke to
one of his friends was when he was looking for a certain lego in the bin
or if he needed help pulling one of the legos apart.
Another stage of play that Michael engages in is cooperative play.
Cooperative play according to Pina (1997), is where children consciously
form into groups to make something, where one or two members direct
the activity with the children assuming different roles and
responsibilities. Michael has shown this type of play in the block area
numerous times. While building, he likes to take control and tells his
group of friends where to place each block. After they place the block
and he does not like where they placed it, he will go over and move it to
what he thinks is the correct place.
An important part of a child?s individuality is his sense of self. The
four year old child according to Oden (1987), should be able to verbally
defend possessions, express feelings verbally, feel confident to join in on
play with others, and engage in cooperative play. Michael has no
problem expressing how he feels. If he wants things done a certain way
he will do it no matter what. He likes to have his own way and if for
some reason he doesn?t get his way he will put on a sad face for a
moment and then find something else to play with.
Sometimes Michael does not like to follow the rules. While
building blocks with the college student and two friends, the college
student accidentally knocked down someone else?s building. Michael
was the first to shout out,
?You knocked it down! Now you have to put it back together, thats
The college student with the help from another boy tried to put the
building back together the best way that they can, but Michael insisted
that he was doing it wrong. A few minutes later Michael was walking
over to the shelf to get blocks and he accidentally stepped on one of the
long blocks and slid right into the middle of the building knocking it all
down. The college student jokingly told him now it was his turn to put it
back together. Michael got up and said,
?No, no I don?t?.
Then Michael started to take the blocks that he knocked down and
he was using them on his own building. One of his friends started to
help him gather up the knocked down blocks and created a building
twice the size of the one that was knocked down. The college student
didn?t say anything to Michael, but you can tell that he was a little
Emotionally and socially Michael is at the appropriate
developmental level. Friendships can help a child develop in other ways
besides socially and emotionally. Movement activities intend to improve
gross motor skills, social – emotional, creative, and cognitive
development. According to Hartup (1992), studies have shown that
friendships result in mastery of certain tasks, problem solving techniques
and mastery of certain cognitive skills. In chapter three, this personality
study will look into further detail of the cognitive development of a four
year old child and how it is related to motor and social – emotional