Key Strategies to Build Social and Emotional Competence

When we set up the environment for success, children are often able to thrive and learn new social and emotional skills. In a predictable, safe environment, children learn to express their emotions, interact with others in a positive way, and cope with frustration. 

8 strategies to get you started

1. Build positive relationships with children

Positive relationships help children feel secure — and that will help them cooperate and stay engaged. This toolkit from the CT Pyramid Partnership provides helpful strategies and resources about Building Relationships (Spanish)

2. Create consistent routines:

Routines help children understand what to expect and what is expected of them. Get tips on how to establish positive routines throughout the day.

·         Morning routines (Spanish)

·         Bedtime routines (Spanish)

3. Use visual schedules

Visual schedules help children to remember and follow routines and handle minor changes.  This short article (Spanish) includes ways to create and use visual schedules at home and at school

4. Help children with transitions

The 4th issue of the Pyramid Pages newsletter (Spanish) provides strategies for helping children move between activities and handle changes to the usual routine.

5. Set positive behavior expectations

Providing clear expectations for all children helps them to know what they should be doing. These feedback starters (Spanish) for giving positive responses and encouragement can help this become a habit.

6. Teach social and emotional skills

When a child has learned the social and emotional skills that are needed in a situation, they are more successful and engage in fewer challenging behaviors. Explore resources that provide strategies for building social and emotional skills.

This article provides strategies and considerations when teaching social and emotional skills.

Issue 3, Volume 1 of the Pyramid Pages (Spanish) focuses on avoiding meltdowns and calming strategies.

Issue 2, Volume 1 of the Pyramid Pages (Spanish) focuses on teaching young children about emotions.

7. Positive Peer relationships

This tool kit from the CT Pyramid Partnership includes tips and resources for building friendship skills (Spanish).

8. Build positive, culturally responsive relationships with families

Partnerships with families are an important part of supporting children’s social and emotional competence. Strong relationships with families help us to understand a child’s experience across contexts, and to work together toward common solutions. This Teacher’s Guide to Relationship-Building with Families provides valuable strategies that can be used by all early childhood professionals

Challenging behaviors

Some children need support to learn the social and emotional skills that help them build positive relationships, handle transitions, and manage their emotions. 

 The Focus on Challenging Behaviors webpage can help. It provides:

  • Overview of resources and services available to programs in CT
  • Tip sheets on de-escalation
  • Strategies for understanding and addressing challenging behaviors

Pyramid Pages for Parents and Early Childhood Providers

This monthly newsletter focuses on social emotional learning and development. It’s full of helpful tips and resources for both providers and families.  You can find these newsletters on the Pyramid Model Resources page. Make sure to visit each month to check out the latest issue!  The newsletter is also emailed to licensed providers as each new issue is released.

Have questions about the Pyramid Model?

For more information on Pyramid implementation in Connecticut, please email us at

Questions about the Pyramid Model?

For more information on Pyramid implementation in Connecticut, please email us at

Last updated July 27, 2023