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To function successfully with their peer groups and in wider society, all children need to learn important skills such as being able to work as part of a group, cooperating with others, following directions, using self-control, and concentrating on tasks.
Social and emotional competence describes our ability to understand, manage, and express these aspects of our lives in ways that enable us to successfully manage life tasks such as learning, forming relationships, solving everyday problems, and adapting to the complex demands of growth and development. It includes self-awareness, control of impulsivity, working cooperatively, and caring about oneself and others.
The opportunity for social interactions with others is therefore, very important for the development of all children. Through social activities, children begin to establish this sense of “self” and to learn what others expect of them.
For very young children, social interactions primarily occur within the family, and from the age of about three and onwards, they enjoy, and even prefer, spending their time helping adults with their activities. In this way, children learn that their contributions are of value
As children grow and develop, they become more and more interested in playing and interacting with other children. Through playing with others, children learn appropriate social behaviours, such as sharing, cooperating, and respecting the property of others. In addition, while interacting with their peers, young children learn communication, cognitive, and motor skills.
Children who learn appropriate social skills often have a higher self-esteem and show a greater willingness to interact with their environment as they grow. The ability to interact competently is a skill that is required throughout life, and may affect future educational and vocational opportunities. Social activities are a part of the process through which children and young people develop the skills, attitudes, and values necessary to acquire social and emotional competence.
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