Interaction is an inherent quality of all
individuals. Be it children or adults all need to be socially well adjusted in
order to be relevant in a particular social interaction. The ability to be able
to respond appropriately or be able to pick the social cues is of critical
relevance in social contexts. Rubin- Krasnor define social competence as:
“the ability to achieve personal
goals in social interaction while simultaneously maintaining positive relationships with others over time and across
situations”(1992).

All children are born with a predisposition to learn the basic
social skills for their social adjustment. This they learn by observing others
in different social settings .kristin Reinsberg has identified some
characteristics which are the indicators of a positive social and emotional
behavior pattern which in turn leads to positive mental health during
childhood.

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 The emotional development is said to have its
roots when children begin to understand who they
are, what they are feeling, what they expect to receive from others? These
concepts are at the heart of their social-emotional wellness. They contribute
to a child’s self-confidence and empathy, her ability to develop meaningful and
lasting friendships and partnerships, and her sense of importance and value to
those around her. Children’s social-emotional development influences all other
areas of development. Different domains of development: Cognitive, motor, and
language development are all greatly affected by how a child feels about
herself and how she is able to express ideas and emotions. 
Professionals sometimes define healthy social-emotional development in young
children as early childhood
mental health. Healthy social-emotional development includes the ability
to be socially competent which involves many elements. The ability to regulate
emotions in terms of expressing their own and in turn be able to understand
other persons’ feelings is the key to develop emotional maturity. Children who
have the ability to explore and engage with the environment and form
sustainable positive relationships are socially competent children. Children
with well-developed social- emotional skills are more confident with pronounced
skills at expressing their ideas and feelings. They can empathize better with
others; manage their feelings of frustration and disappointment better. There
is a positive correlation between school success and social emotional
competence of children. There is a compelling link between social/ emotional
development and behavior with school success, children with better social and
behavioral competence have greater chances of early school success and better
adjustment in early grades.  (Raver and
Knitzer 2002, Raver 2002, Zins et al., 2004). Barbara J Smith’s research
studies of children with challenging behavior have indicated that the children
are more likely to face early and persistent peer rejection , mostly punitive
contacts with teachers , family interaction patterns which are unpleasant for
all participants, and school failure (Centre for Evidence-Based Practice: young
Children with Challenging Behavior, 2003). Programs with a focus on developing
the social skills have improved the children’s school performance and the
reading, writing and math skills (Zins et al. 2004).

Concept of Social Competence

The children from
birth display social behavior as they try to make eye contact with persons
around them, making facial expressions and body gestures, trying to imitate others,
smiling, showing displeasure by way of crying etc. All these ways are means of
communicating with people around them. The way other people around the child
respond to the baby’s needs, gestures and generally respond and interact with each
other acts as a model for young children. All children have distinct
personality traits and temperament from birth which to a large extent determines
the responses a child gets from others and in turn also influences the nature
of interactions a child has with other significant others around her. A safe
secure environment with loving and accepting parents is the foundation for
developing positive social behavior in children. Studies on play have been
crucial as role play and pretend play contribute significantly to the child’s
social, emotional and intellectual development. During role play and pretend
play the child is exposed to situations where he/she has opportunities for taking
other person’s perspective, experiencing various feelings and emotions,
participate in group activities. All these impact the developing social skills
positively.

Social competence
is generally considered as the ability to ‘get along ‘with others. How well a
child interacts and communicates with peers and adults is a crucial skill for
assessing the social competence of children. A child’s views of herself in
relation to the family, peers and significant others affect the social
competence. The social skills needed for competence includes knowing what is
expected for social interactions like making eye contact, taking turns,
listening to others, not being aggressive, recognizing emotions in self and
others, facial expressions and gestures, and being able to communicate
effectively with peers and adults around them.

Social skill or
competence is closely related to other aspects of development. The emotional
component like emotional self –regulation, and attention regulation (Blander,Calkins,Grimm,
Keane and O’Brien 2010). The importance of social skills is being recognized in
most of the nations and its significant contribution to the overall well-being
and school related achievements of a child cannot be underestimated by any
organization working for children. The importance of providing appropriate
experiences and opportunities for developing positive social skills will reduce
anti-social disruptive behavior in schools and promote a positive learning
environment.

 

Emotions
are an integral part of human nature. Through emotions we respond to life in
many different ways- with anger, happiness, love, fear, and jealousy. Emotions
influence our thoughts and actions and consequently play a crucial role in
inspiring our needs and motivations. The very construct of social-emotional
well-being in children has a subtle connotation to positive adaptation in face
of challenges and adverse circumstances.

Research shows that when educators teach children the key skills they
need to understand their emotions and the emotions of others, handle conflicts,
solve problem, and develop relationships with peers, their problem behavior
decreases and their social skills improve (Joseph & Strain 2003). Emphasis
on teaching social