1st Edition

The Development of Emotional Competence in Young Children

By Susanne A. Denham Copyright 2023

    This engaging, authoritative text synthesizes a vast body of research on how young children develop the ability to understand, express, and manage their emotions, as well as the impact of these capacities on relationships, school readiness, and overall well-being. Illustrated with vivid vignettes, the book explains specific ways that parents, teachers, and education systems can foster or hinder emotional competence, and reviews relevant assessments and interventions. Compelling topics include emotion regulation as both product and process, cultural variations in emotion socialization, the expression of empathy and self-conscious emotions, risk factors for delays in emotional development, and connections between emotional competence and social–emotional learning (SEL). Almost entirely new, this book replaces Susanne A. Denham's influential earlier work, Emotional Development in Young Children.

    1. Introduction
    2. Emotional Expressiveness: Basic Emotions and Empathy
    3. Emotional Expressiveness: Social Emotions and Voluntary Emotional Control
    4. Developing Knowledge of Emotions and Regulation
    5. More Advanced Emotion Knowledge During Preschool
    6. Emotion Regulation
    7. Socialization of Emotional Competence and Impact on Preschoolers’ Expressiveness
    8. Socialization of Preschoolers’ Emotion Knowledge and Emotion Regulation
    9. Teachers’ Emotion Socialization of Preschoolers’ Emotional Competence
    10. Contributions of Emotional Expressiveness, Emotion Knowledge, and Emotion Regulation to Preschoolers’ Social Competence
    11. Contributions of Emotional Expressiveness, Emotion Knowledge, and Emotion Regulation to Early School Success
    12. Disruptions in the Development of Emotional Competence
    13. Educating for Emotional Competence
    14. Concluding Remarks
    Author Index
    Subject Index
    About the Author


    Susanne A. Denham, PhD, is Emeritus University Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. She is an applied developmental psychologist with particular expertise in children's social and emotional development. Dr. Denham has conducted extensive research on emotional competence, especially in preschoolers--how it influences children’s social and academic functioning, its assessment, and how parents and teachers foster it. Before joining the faculty of George Mason University in 1985, Dr. Denham worked as a school psychologist for 11 years. She is editor of the journal Early Education and Development and past coeditor of Social Development.

    "The time is right for this book. Each chapter is infused with classic and cutting-edge research. The writing is so clear that it makes the material highly accessible, even for readers without a background in child development. The author has thoughtfully crafted numerous vignettes that vividly illustrate major concepts and constructs. This book will be useful in all teacher education and early childhood education programs, and could be part of the curriculum in programs related to educational and developmental science."--Jeffrey Liew, PhD, Department of Educational Psychology, Texas A&M University

    "Denham has been instrumental to the field of emotional development. This comprehensive book reflects her significant contributions, while also incorporating the latest science. This is a 'must read' for scholars interested in understanding and contributing to the growing knowledge about young children's emotional development."--Susan E. Rivers, PhD, Executive Director and Chief Scientist, iThrive Games Foundation

    "Denham is a notable developmental psychologist whose research on emotional competence in children is world renowned. This book is a wonderful resource for students, researchers, and educators alike. Written in an engaging and accessible manner, the book provides an overview of emotional competence, focusing on how theory can be applied in everyday settings."--Stacey N. Doan, PhD, Department of Psychological Science, Claremont McKenna College

    "One challenge in the field of social–emotional learning (SEL) is the continued disagreement about what constitutes SEL and what doesn’t. Denham cuts through the noise to provide a clean and clear focus on the core emotional skills that children need."--Katherine Zinsser, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

    "Will become the 'go-to' text on emotional development in the toddler and preschool years. Denham provides the most comprehensive review of the research that I've seen. This is a valuable book for scholars and students interested in emotional development. Early childhood practitioners will be especially interested in the chapters on the influence of teachers and educational curricula."--Deborah Laible, PhD, Department of Psychology, Lehigh University-