As social beings one of the most important tasks during childhood is to develop adequate social and communicative skills, to enable successful interaction with the wide variety of people and situations encountered throughout life (Moore, 2010). Social cognition refers to the understanding of our own behaviour and that of others, and is at the heart of an individual’s ability to get along with other people (Astington & Olson, 2010). The foundations of social competence that are developed in the first few years of life have been closely linked to a child’s later ability to functionally adapt in school and to form successful relationships throughout life (Cohen, 2005). The No Child Left Behind Act brought in in 2001 in the US, requires that
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How the primary care giver responds to these emotions has been found to impact on the child’s emotional and social understanding. Calkins et al., (2004) found that the mothers of frustrated infants were less sensitive, more intrusive and provided less physical stimulation to their infant, than mothers of the less frustrated infants, who were better at controlling their child’s attention as needed. A longitudinal study (Belsky, Pasco Fearon, & Bell, 2007) found that higher levels of observed maternal supportive behaviour predicted higher levels of observed child attention control. When measured across two different time series, results showed that supportive, responsive behaviour affected the child’s attention control both concurrently and over time.
Social-emotionally developed children possess the ability to self-regulate, are curious, more confident, cooperative and more able to communicate, all of which contribute to their readiness for school (Raver, 2003). This is illustrated by The Children’s Plan (Harris & Goodall, 2008) which proposed a new focus on social and emotional skills, in order to develop greater resilience and preparedness for change in the child. Children with a positive disposition, who are able to self-regulate through shifting and focusing attention as required, are more able to engage in education programs.