A Handy Social Emotional Developmental “Milestones Checklist” For 6-12 Months

Many parents are very familiar – borderline obsessive (often to a fault!) – when it comes to developmental milestones, which are things that most children are able to do by a certain age. Children reach these in how they play, learn, speak, act and move. There is a wide range as far as when kids hit these various markers and while it shouldn’t set off panic if a child isn’t checking off all of them, it should prompt an investigation into why and what kind of help can facilitate things “moving along.”

Social and emotional milestones include exhibiting a large range of emotions, showing concern when a sibling or friend is crying and demonstrating affection without prompting. To dive deeper into the “when and what” are these milestones, we turned to Donna Whittaker, VP of curriculum and education at Big Blue Marble Academy.

“Developmental milestones in the area of social emotional development are complex in nature, but easy for parents and caregivers to observe, notice, and encourage by having simple yet meaningful interactions with children,” says Whittaker.

Image: Getty

Social Emotional Developmental Milestones for 6-month-old children include:

  • Knows familiar people- “Does the child give you non-verbal cues like smiling, reaching out for, making brief eye contact with members of the family, friends and caregivers. When a child recognizes familiar people it shows they are capable of making connections and able to build relationships.”
  • Like to look at self in a mirror– “Research tells us that a child’s first and most important ‘toy’ is the human face. When a child finds interest in their own reflection it lets us know that they are interested in faces and are beginning to make connections with people.”
  • Laughs– “This means that a child is beginning to show more emotions than just the ones that get their basic needs met. They are beginning to show enjoyment of certain things that are happening around them.”

What can you do to support these milestones?

Knows familiar people- “Identify familiar people saying something like: ‘You see your sister?’ or ‘You reached out for daddy. You know your daddy, don’t you?'”

Like to look at self in a mirror- “Place child proof mirrors at the child’s eye level, so they can see themselves as they play on the floor. As a child looks at himself/herself in the mirror, point to the reflection and say something like: ‘Look at that sweet baby, that is you, (name). That is you in the mirror.'”

Laughs– “As a child laughs, comment on what is happening saying something like: ‘I hear you laughing (laugh with child). Did you think that song was funny?'”

Social Emotional Developmental Milestones for 9-month-old children include:

  • Is shy, clingy, or fearful around strangers- “This lets us know that the child can discriminate between strangers and familiar people, people who they have developed relationships with and those they have not.”
  • Shows several facial expressions, like happy, sad, angry and surprised– “Since children this age are typically non verbal, being able to produce facial expressions is an important skill that allows children to share emotions with others.”
  • Looks when you call her name- “A child responding to their name is a critical skill because it is the foundation to many other skills.”
  • Reacts when you leave (looks, reaches for you, or cries)– “This lets us know that the child has developed important connections and relationships with the parent or caregiver. Children this age are developing the concept of object permanence, which means they know the person or object exists even if it is not in their sight.”
  • Smiles or laughs when you play peek-a-boo- “Children this age begin to have preferences of what they like and dislike. When a child plays and enjoys social games like peek-a-boo they are learning that social interactions are good. These types of games promote eye connect, which is vital for building connections in the brain.”
Image: Getty

What can you do to support these milestones?

  • Is shy, clingy, or fearful around strangers- “As important as it is for a child to cling to the people that he/she has relationships with, it is equally important for him/her to know that your job as a parent, teacher or caregiver is to keep them safe. Saying something to the child like: ‘You don’t know her but I am here to keep you safe. I’ve got you.'”
  • Shows several facial expressions, like happy, sad, angry and surprised– “Mimic the child’s facial expressions and add the language for the emotion. As you talk and play with your child, use a variety of facial expressions in context. For example:Using a surprised expression when the child bumps a stack of blocks making them fall down.”
  • Looks when you call her name- “As you play with your child, make eye contact and use their name in a playful and loving way. Touch him/her as you say his/her name.”
  • Smiles or laughs when you play peek-a-boo- “Play these types of games often. Watch for your child’s nonverbal cues that he/she wants you to play the game again. For example: Move hands or objects in front of the body or provide a look of anticipation. Games like this also help children to practice an understanding of object permanence.”

Social Emotional Developmental Milestone for 12-month-old children include:

“Social emotional milestones for this age build on the social emotional skills for ages six and nine months.”

  • Play games with you, like pat-a-cake– “Games like pat-a-cake promote parent/caregiver and child brain connections to help release chemicals in the child’s brain that lets them know that social interactions are good. Positive, joyful, and social play between child and adult is key to healthy development.”

What can you do to support these milestones?

“Play social games early and often. Watch for your child’s verbal and nonverbal cues as to whether or not they want the game to continue. Use different voices and facial expressions as you play the game.

Parents know their child best. If your child is not meeting one or more milestones, has lost skills that he or she once had, or you have other concerns, act early. Talk with your child’s doctor, share your concerns and ask about a developmental screening.”

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