Personal, Social and Emotional Development



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Personal, Social and Emotional Development is widely regarded as one of the building blocks of success in life and this can be achieved by supporting children to interact effectively and develop positive attitudes to themselves and others. This requires positive feedback and the modelling of appropriate behaviour, in their early years, this is possibly the most important area of learning. We want the children to develop a sense of emotional well-being and a confidence in themselves, build on their awareness of the needs and feelings of others and ensure that their experiences of making relationships with both adults and peers is a positive, warm and special.

In the Revised EYFS Personal, Social and Emotional is broken down into three aspects:

  • Self confidence and self-awareness
  • Managing feelings and behaviour
  • Making relationships

We hope that the children will be eager to learn, explore and develop their independence but still feel confident to ask for help. We hope that they will learn to take turns and share fairly, and show consideration for others and the environment. By giving the children greater choice and allowing them to foster this in a safe and secure environment this will in turn encourage and foster their own self esteem.




Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED), along with Communication and Language (CL) and Physical Development (PD), is one of the three prime areas of learning in the EYFS framework. These areas are called prime because they underpin all other aspects of young children’s learning and development.

From the moment they are born, young children experience the world through interacting and communicating with others, and engaging physically with the environment around them. The three prime areas of learning are regarded as particularly important for inspiring young children’s curiosity and enthusiasm, laying the foundations for future success in all aspects of life and education.

Personal development is about how children come to understand who they are and what they can do.

Social development covers how children come to understand themselves in relation to others; how they make friends, understand the rules of society and behave towards others.

Emotional development is about how children understand their own and others’ feelings and develop their ability to be empathetic – to see things from another person’s point of view.



Prime and specific areas of learning

The three prime areas of the EYFS should be the focus for practitioners working with the youngest children, as they form the basis for successful learning and progress in the four specific areas.

As children become older, the emphasis will shift towards a more equal focus on all areas of learning as children’s confidence and abilities increase.

If at any time a child’s progress within any of the prime areas gives cause for concern, practitioners should discuss this with the child’s parents and provide focused support in that area. This approach is designed to ensure that any issues are addressed at an early stage of a child’s life.

Helping children to manage feelings and behaviour

For practitioners, supporting young children to manage their feelings and behaviour involves helping them to:

  • develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings
  • understand appropriate behaviour in groups.

When they are very young, babies and children need support from others – parents, carers and family members – to regulate their feelings. This support, consistently given, helps them to understand basic emotions, begin to control their impulses, and learn how to manage and display their feelings appropriately.

There is evidence from educational practice and neuroscience that suggests that emotional arousal interferes with cognitive engagement. This means that children need to feel comfortable, emotionally and physically, in order to learn effectively. Helping children to learn how to regulate and manage their feelings is therefore a vital stepping stone for success in learning and in life.

Early Learning Goal

Children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable. They work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules. They adjust their behaviour to different situations, and take changes of routine in their stride.


Summary of development for two-year-olds

When a child is aged between 24 and 36 months, practitioners must review progress in Personal, Social and Emotional Development, along with the other two prime areas of learning. Parents or carers should be given a short written summary of their child’s development as part of the ongoing dialogue between the setting and the family. This summary should identify any areas where the child’s progress is less than expected and should shape a targeted plan to support that child’s future learning and development in the setting.

How PSED can be observed in our setting:

The children’s day is structured to provide a reassuring amount of consistency without being too rigid. The environment, indoors and outdoors, is well resourced with open-ended materials to provide the children with plenty of opportunities to play with things that interest them. Staff listen to the children, observe what they are doing and use their judgement and experience to avoid conflict by intervening sensitively. Where appropriate they use disputes or moments of tension between children as learning opportunities by talking to the children about the effect their behaviour may be having on others.

The setting has a consistent approach to managing children’s behaviour, and all new members of staff are helped to observe how this works in practice. Staff talk to children about feelings and emotions, helping them to find the language to express themselves effectively. They understand the importance of making it clear to children that on occasion it is their behaviour that they dislike, not the child himself.

To help children benefit from a consistent approach, parents are encouraged to discuss the way the setting helps children to manage feelings and behaviour, and to raise any questions they may have.

Children use a desicion board and  they are encouraged to make choices and to access the materials they need. To make this approach work well, a great deal of time and effort is invested in helping children to understand their responsibilities for caring for the resources in the setting. Practitioners are consistent in their approach and pay attention to making the environment an interesting, inviting and exciting place to be.

Time is spent talking with children about rights, duties and responsibilities, and about acceptable and nonacceptable forms of behaviour. Children are encouraged to talk about why they might have behaved in a particular way and how they might manage a situation differently the next time. The staff have very high expectations of the children but are always quick to praise consideration, cooperation and care for others.

Practitioners share with parents the importance of children feeling emotionally comfortable and secure in order for them to be able to learn effectivelyand an effective key person approach is in place. Home visits are available where deemedt advantageous to the child. 

Ideas for parents

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Helping your child to manage their feelings and behaviour

To help your child learn how to manage their feelings and behaviour you will need to provide lots of opportunities for them to:

  • develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings
  • understand how to behave as a member of a group.

You could use the ideas below as starting points to help you do this.

Under twos

  • Talk to your baby by making eye contact and using funny faces.
  • Respond to your child’s emotion by joining in his laughter and soothing his upset.
  • If your child is upset use quiet language and lots of cuddles to calm him.
  • Try to create a regular routine at mealtimes and bedtimes as your child will find this comforting and reassuring.
  • Read picture books and stories together to gently explore feelings and emotions.
  • Praise your child when he shows care and concern for others.
  • Don’t forget the importance of children getting enough rest and sleep every day.

Two- to three-year-olds

  • Be consistent in your approach so your child can understand what is expected of her in different situations.
  • As far as possible, persuade other family members to follow the same approach.
  • Find out if your early years setting has any useful ideas about managing behaviour that you could use.
  • If your child has a tantrum, try to stay calm. Your child may feel frightened and they need to see that you are in control.
  • Use words to express feelings so your child can learn how to put her feelings into words.
  • When your child plays with other children she will be learning how to be part of a group.
  • Children learn how to control their emotions as they grow older so have high expectations, but don’t expect the impossible.

Four- to five-year-olds

  • Help your child to talk about what makes her happy, sad, angry or upset.
  • Remember, children learn best when they feel comfortable, safe and secure.
  • Being tired, hungry, thirsty or bored may have an effect on your child’s behaviour.
  • Be consistent in how you respond to your child’s behaviour.
  • Value your child as an individual but help her to learn the social skills she needs to get on well with others.
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep to recharge his physical and emotional batteries.
  • Have high expectations, but remember we can’t all be perfect all the time.