Social and emotional development

  • 6 Key Points
  • ? Social skills, like any other skills, have to be learned. Yet much of what children learn about socially appropriate behaviour is not actually taught to them; they simply pick it up as they go along.
  • ? Many health centres and adolescent units now run social skills training groups where children can learn to become better at understanding the social consequences of their actions
  • ? Common behaviours seen in children with specific learning difficulties, as they attempt to cope with their disability, include school avoidance, homework avoidance, TV/computer/gaming console ‘addiction’, cheating, aggression, ‘controlling’ behaviour, quitting, and withdrawal.


There is widespread recognition that children with specific learning difficulties may experience social and emotional problems because of their learning difficulties, but it is often not realized that impairment of social skills may itself be a form of learning difficulty. This is due to a limitation in the way that the brain is able to understand social conventions. This is called a social cognition (or social learning) deficit.

In this chapter, I shall first discuss social cognition deficit, and then discuss a number of behaviour problems that may occur as a result of a specific learning difficulty.

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