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Understanding Children’s Social and Behavioural Development

19th June 2015

It can be difficult sometimes as a parent to not compare your own child’s abilities to that of others. “Why can’t my daughter sit up on her own when theirs can?” and “How come their son can recite the alphabet and ours can’t yet?” might all be familiar conversations you have had. However, children develop at different stages and comparing them isn’t going to help them develop any quicker.

As a general rule of thumb, there are certain emotional and social milestones that children reach at each stage throughout their childhood. Being aware and keeping track of these in relation to your own child’s development will help highlight any difficulties your child could be experiencing.


2 months

  • Cry to have their needs met
  • Will look directly at you and begin to smile

4 months

  • Learn to play and cry if you stop playing with them
  • Start imitating the faces you make

6 months

  • Become more familiar with people
  • Enjoy looking at their reflection in the mirror
  • Can respond to emotions by crying, laughing, smiling etc.

9 months

  • Signs of stranger anxiety (become distressed when left with people unfamiliar to them)
  • Have favourite toys that they choose over others

12 months

  • More interactive e.g. uses certain noises to get your attention
  • Enjoys playing games such as ‘peekaboo’


18 months – 2 years

  • Temper tantrums
  • Independence and communication increases
  • Begins simple pretend play and make-believe
  • Interested in being around other children and playing with them

3 – 4 years

  • Verbalise a wider range of emotion
  • May confuse make-believe with real life
  • Shows signs of kindness and caring
  • Start playing with other children more easily
  • Tantrums over changes in routine or not getting their own way

School age

5 – 6 years

  • Aware of their gender and may prefer to play with same-sex friends
  • More conversational and independent
  • Enjoys playing with other children
  • Sometimes have the odd tantrum but more to test the boundaries
  • Starting to understand the emotion of embarrassment

7-8 years

  • Try to express their feelings with words but can sometimes use aggression
  • Strive to behave well but don’t always succeed
  • Start to complain about friendships
  • Aware of other people’s perceptions

9-10 years

  • Narrow down friendship groups to a few that they share secrets and jokes with
  • Affectionate and curious but can also be rude and argumentative at times
  • Start developing their own identity so may withdraw from family things more

Here at Tiny World, we look after children from newborn to 11 years old, so if you’re in need of exceptional child care throughout Nottingham and Mansfield for your child, then please get in touch with the team today.