Social and Emotional Learning, Early Childhood

  • Denham S
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Emotional literacy is as vital as any other type of learning and is central to children’s ability to interact and form relationships with others—their social competence. Broadly stated, aspects of emotional competence developing through the lifespan include emotional expression and experience, understanding emotions of self and others, and the regulation of emotion. Children become increasingly emotionally competent over time. Growing evidence suggests that such emotional competence contributes not only to children’s social competence and well-being during the early childhood years, but also to later outcomes, such as school adjustment and mental health (Denham, 1998; Saarni, 1999). In this entry, the importance of both emotional and social competence (subsumed as social emotional learning, or SEL), along with related risk and resilience factors and programming to promote SEL during early childhood, are outlined.




Denham, S. A. (2003). Social and Emotional Learning, Early Childhood. In Encyclopedia of Primary Prevention and Health Promotion (pp. 1009–1018). Springer US.

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