Developing Self

Social and Emotional Learning and Development

Emotions and Self-Regulation

Goal 1: Children express a range of emotions and regulate their emotional and social responses

By the end of each age group or grade level, most children will have met prior age group or grade level standards in this domain.

Infants Through Older Toddlers


(0-12 Months)

  1. Express emotions in many ways including e.g., gestures and vocalizations
  2. Regulate emotions and impulses e.g., soothes self
  3. Show some regulated daily routines e.g., sleeping and feeding
  4. Develop some ability to attend to primary caregiver or toys with support
  5. Show ability to continue interaction with familiar adults or toys for more than just a brief time

Young Toddlers

(9-18 Months)

  1. Express a variety of emotions e.g., happy, sad, mad
  2. Respond with intent to adult speech, facial expressions, touch and/or movement
  3. Take action to meet own needs e.g., pointing, stating, “more”, or giving hugs
  4. Follow simple routines e.g., goes to sink when an adult mentions hand washing
  5. Go to familiar adults for reassurance
  6. Show ability to attend to people, objects and activities to extend an activity or join others in a common focus
  7. Persist in attempts to communicate need

Older Toddlers

(18-36 Months)

  1. Imitate different emotions or feelings through gestures and/or wordsn
  2. Identify common emotions in self and others e.g., happy, sad, mad
  3. Use simple strategies to cope with own emotions e.g., appropriate gestures, actions and words
  4. Engage self in pretend play for short periods of time
  5. Participate in activities and experiences with people, objects or materials that require attention and common focus
  6. Show increased ability to stay engaged when working toward a goal or solving a problems
  7. Persist in attempts with different strategies until successful
Younger Preschoolers Through Kindergartners

Younger Preschoolers

(36-48 months)

  1. Express a range of emotions and feelings through appropriate gestures, actions and words
  2. Identify and expresses needs of self and stands up for own rights
  3. Make choice based on own likes and dislikes
  4. Adapt behavior to fit different expectations and situations with adult support e.g., following daily routine, family culture
  5. Start and stop activities based on external cues
  6. Engage self and others in play including back and forth interactions
  7. Express empathy and sympathy to peers e.g., gives hug to friend when crying, brings band-aide to friend when hurt

Older Preschoolers

(48-60 months)

  1. Express needs of self and others and stands up for rights of self and others
  2. Make choices and shows understanding of consequences
  3. Independently adapt behavior to fit different expectations and situations
  4. Participate in small and large group peer selected and adult led activities
  5. Use problem solving skills to compromise and resolve conflicts e.g., offers to trade toy for another, takes turn with another child
  6. Focus on a self-selected activity or task to completion with adult help
  7. Manage transitions with minimal direction from adults


  1. Attend to and complete activity with minimal distraction
  2. Focus on a self-selected activity or task to completion
  3. Recognize how own actions affect others
  4. Manage feelings and social situations with greater independence
  5. Seek help, clarification, and permission from teachers or other adults
  6. Resolve some simple conflict through problem solving and negotiation prior to seeking adult help
  7. Apply some basic relaxation techniques e.g., ‘mountain breathing’
  8. Engage in more structured large and small group activities
First Graders Through Third Graders

First Graders

  1. Focus attention to complete tasks/topics assigned by others
  2. Control strong emotions in an appropriate manner most of the time
  3. Make decisions and solve simple problems with other children independently
  4. Describe strategies to cope and manage stress
  5. Demonstrate flexibility for schedule change

Second Graders

  1. Demonstrate longer attention span while engaged in tasks assigned by others
  2. Complete cooperative projects with other children independently
  3. Apply strategies steps for resolving more complex conflict and problem solving
  4. Manage strong emotion using known strategies

Third Graders

  1. Initiate the use of self-calming strategies to cope with uncomfortable emotions
  2. Complete and accurately reflects of role in group work
  3. Consider multiple viewpoints when solving conflicts
  4. Consistently focus attention during non-preferred activities
  5. Concentrate on more complex projects and complete tasks even with a few interruptions
  6. Demonstrate patience with personal limitations; controls feelings based on how they affect others

Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Daniel M. French
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

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