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St John XXIII Catholic Primary School Inspiring Faith in our Future

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Personal, social and emotional development (PSED) is an essential part of the early years curriculum. PSED skills underpin children’s development in all other areas and your child may struggle to learn in the school environment if they have not developed the appropriate social and personal skills. Part of this area is being able to adapt behaviour and actions to different situations - your child is not expected to sit smart and quiet all of the time! Equally, they are learning how to make relationships and working out different social situations, which is an ongoing process.


Demonstrate to your child how you deal with your feelings, for example, ‘I’m feeling angry right now and I need to calm down, so I’m going to…’


Create a bank of ideas of things that can make people feel better. Talk to other family members about what makes them feel better.


Where possible, praise your child’s positive behaviour and ignore negative. When you need to reprimand your child, explain what it is they have done and why it is not acceptable.


Share books and stories about characters showing different behaviour. Discuss ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ and their characteristics. Any story can be used for this – just think of the Big Bad Wolf! Below is a list of books dealing specifically with feelings and behaviour.


Show how people resolve conflict during pretend play with your child. Act out imaginary conversations between puppets/dolls/teddies, showing typical things that children argue about, such as both wanting the same toy. Discuss how these problems can be solved.


If your child struggles with changes to routine, use picture cards and a Now/Next Visual Aid to help them to see what is coming.


Discuss ‘rules’ at home. Perhaps work with your child to develop a set of rules and discuss why rules are needed – to keep us safe, help us to get along, help us to manage difficult feelings.


Don’t immediately stop a conversation with someone else if your child interrupts you (it can be harder than you think!). Perhaps hold their hand and say, ‘One minute’, then give them your full attention when you are ready. This teaches them to wait for what they want but also models how to give attention and listen to someone else.


Encourage good manners, including looking at people who are talking and responding even if engaged in another activity.


Set goals that are achievable but also provide some motivation for your child. Do they really want to get a certificate at school? Make a plan together about how they can get that and help them learn that they need to stick at it! Remember, being disappointed occasionally actually helps with this and is a normal part of life.



Share books that talk about confidence and self-awareness – there are a few ideas above. Whilst reading, talk about the characters’ feelings and why they responded and reacted in the way they did.


Let your child have a go! They need to learn to manage risks and solve problems and the best way to do that is to have a try. So, let them try on the balance beam and work out that they need to go slowly for themselves.


Resist the urge to talk negatively about yourself, e.g. ‘I won’t be able to do that, I’m rubbish at…’. Children learn from what they see and hear around them.


Teach your child to feel good about their success for its own sake rather than the promise of a reward. Value their effort and how hard they tried.


Teach your child to look after their belongings and tidy up after themselves, then trust them to do it independently.


As soon as you feel it is appropriate, teach your child to go to the toilet independently, including adjusting clothing so it doesn’t get splashed, wiping correctly and thoroughly, flushing properly and washing hands.


Hands off! Resist the temptation to ‘do everything’ for your child. A child who is able to dress and undress and go to the toilet independently is likely to be more settled and confident at school.


Teach dressing and undressing. Start with one garment at a time and practise with that. Choose clothes which don’t have lots of tiny buttons or fasteners, and which have loose, comfortable necks and sleeves. If your child struggles with dressing, try leaving them one small step to complete, such as pulling up a zipper, to build their confidence.



Play games and plan activities that require turn taking, sharing and an idea of winning and losing. For example, a simple board game, painting pictures together, or playing a game of catch.


Encourage your child to play and interact with other people - both adults and children. For example, let them talk to the cashier at the supermarket or the waitress in the restaurant.


Collect pictures of faces displaying different emotions and help your child to label them e.g. ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘angry’. This will help your child to recognise these emotions in others and respond appropriately.


If possible, encourage your child to have contact with other children outside of school, through play dates, for example.


Don’t micromanage your child’s interactions with friends but perhaps discuss afterwards if you saw anything that caused a problem


Share books that teach how to make good relationships. There are a few great ideas at the end of this section. Whilst reading, talk about the characters’ feelings and why they responded and reacted the way they did.


Use puppets or dolls to recreate situations during imaginary play with your child. For example, what to do if you want to play with someone or how to respond if someone hurts you.