Preschool Classroom Interventions Series: Social and Emotional Skills Challenges

A child who has difficulties in the social domain has difficulties with peer interactions, friendship skills, recognizing and communicating emotions appropriately, and problem solving.

Skill building Interventions for the child who seems to have socialemotional difficulties:

  • For the shy and aggressive child, start with one-one work and move to small group work over time.
  • Teach a social skills curriculum.
  • Place the child near or have the child work with those with whom the child has social success, thus building more social competency through successful experiences.
  • When the child is participating in more social centers and activities, provide direct instruction in skills on social skills, such as joining in, saying please and thank you, responding in caring ways to others, etc. Include modeling and much positive reinforcement.
  • During activities, set up boundaries that will keep children close to each other so that they will have to practice social skills.
  • Read or create to read storybooks about play. Read and discuss these often; utilize these to teach the student how to play and use appropriate social skills.
  • Place picture icons around the room that can be used to teach various social skills. When the child is in a situation where she is struggling, point to the picture and use them as teaching tools. Also use modeling, role playing, and positive reinforcement.

Modifications for the child who seems to have social-emotional difficulties:

  • Limit the number of children that the child must work with in centers and small groups.
  • Place the child near or have the child work with those with whom the child has social success, thus building more social competency through successful experiences.
  • At times, it may be useful to have all students sit in chairs at circle time to limit disruptive touching of peers by certain students.
  • Allow the child to observe before joining into an activity.
  • During snack and meal times, sit at the table and encourage positive social interactions.

Other helpful principles to apply:

  • Build on what the child enjoys, especially if you discover enjoyment of any pro-social behavior.
  • Include parent involvement in intervention.
  • Teach peers how to approach and work with the child.