How to Set Social Learning Goals for Preschoolers

How to Set Social Learning Goals for Preschoolers

Sometimes your child’s behavior can embarrass you. Whether he has just whacked another preschool child with a block or threw a tantrum at the grocery store, his behavior can leave you wishing that social skills came programmed with the child.

Preschool curriculum includes social skill activities to help tame and train his behavior. You can help by modeling the skills you want to see.

Compassion and Empathy

Empathy and compassion are two parts of whole. Empathy touches your emotions and compassion spurs you to do something about the it. Many young children display those skills as toddlers.

For example, your child wants to hug and comfort you when you’re upset, she cries with a friend or she tries to pick up a crying baby to soothe him, even when he is almost as big as she is. Empathy and compassion encourage her to act in a more loving way and to consider the feelings of others.


“Mine! Waaaaaaa!” What parent hasn’t heard this from a distressed toddler or preschooler — even when the object clearly doesn’t belong to the child. Sharing is a challenge for your child because he might truly believe that if he allows someone else to have the item, he won’t get it back.

Sharing is important in preschool classes or at home when you have a limited supply of something. You might set a timer to limit the exchange of toys if he’s playing with a sibling or a friend at your home.

It’s OK if he has something he doesn’t want to share, so you can help him put those items away until he can play with them alone. If it’s something of yours he has, you might explain that you have items you don’t share either.

Cooperation and Communication

Your child’s fascination with “no” doesn’t end when she turns 3. Fortunately, you can explain reasons why it’s in her best interest to cooperate, such as “If you pick up your toys now, you can go outside when you’re done.” She’s learning to communicate better, too.

You can find out why she doesn’t want to cooperate or what she wants. Her preschool teacher will provide opportunities to cooperate and teach communication skills through reading and frequent opportunities to talk. You can help by reading to her, letting her tell stories and by talking to her daily.


Some adults still have trouble with self-control, so it’s no surprise your preschooler does. He doesn’t always see that his lack of control creates problems. You can encourage self-control by pointing out how his behavior affects his life.

For example, if he hits you in anger, he must sit in time-out or his activities are restricted. The preschool teacher will stress self-control because it maintains an orderly and safe class for all students. When you’re tempted to let loose, remind yourself that he learns by watching you.

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