Social and emotional development in early childhood: more important than ever.

Children’s ability to regulate their emotions and skillfully manage social interactions is critical to their healthy development and future success. If social-emotional problems are identified and addressed early, children are less likely to be placed in special education programs—and later in life, they’re also less likely to experience school failure, unemployment, and incarceration.

Preventing social-emotional challenges in the critical early years is a matter of national concern. The first step is timely, accurate, and cost-effective screening—with a screener like Ages & Stages Questionnaires®: Social-Emotional, Second Edition (ASQ:SE-2™)—that pinpoints problem areas in social or emotional development in early childhood. The earlier a social-emotional problem is recognized and addressed, the better the child’s chance of success.

What is Social-Emotional Screening?

Social-emotional screening is an applied method for detecting and monitoring signals that indicate whether a young child may be delayed in aspects of social-emotional development, such as communication, autonomy, affect, and interaction with people.

The process of screening is not intended to serve as a diagnosis for a child—but rather to carefully and accurately inform meaningful next steps, such as more in-depth social-emotional assessment, further monitoring, or other. Typically, in many cases, the act of screening rules out the need for deeper assessment.

This is where quality counts. Using a valid, reliable screening system like ASQ:SE-2, professionals can screen children for social-emotional concerns accurately and cost-effectively.

How Do Screening Tools Work?

Screening tools usually take the form of a series of questions or checklists used to track children’s development relative to milestones achieved by a larger group of children of the same age. A home-grown checklist won’t accurately evaluate this development. Effective screening tools need to be carefully and systematically validated by research.

With ASQ:SE-2, parents or other caregivers answer a series of simple questions regarding their child’s social-emotional development (e.g., “Is your baby able to calm himself down (for example, by sucking on his hand or pacifier?)”; “Does your child like to be picked up and held?”). Children whose social-emotional development appears to fall significantly below that of their peers are flagged for further attention.

Where Can ASQ:SE-2 Be Conducted?

All settings where infants and young children are served can provide a place for screening for social or emotional development in early childhood. ASQ:SE-2 can be completed in:

  • Homes
  • Primary health care clinics
  • Immunization clinics
  • Mental health clinics
  • Child care centers and preschools
  • Baby groups
  • Health fairs
  • School screenings
  • Community Child Find activities

Learn how ASQ:SE-2 screens children for social-emotional concerns

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    What ASQ Users are Saying

    We chose ASQ because it is easy to do, low cost, culturally sensitive, and it meets our purpose of basic screening for our children’s development. Our infant teachers base their curriculum on each individual child based on the ASQ.”

    Kathy Bostic, Program Supervisor, Pinehurst Child Care Center