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  /  Child Development   /  Personal, Social and Emotional Development through Play

Personal, Social and Emotional Development through Play

Personal, Social and Emotional Development through Play

Personal, social and emotional (PSE) covers topics such as confidence, sharing and managing feelings. Good development is incredibly important as it affects how a child interacts with the world; because of this, it can have a large impact on a child’s progression in many areas, including learning in a school environment, in addition to their well-being.

In this article, we look at some of the many different skills involved in encouraging Personal, Social and Emotional development through play, toys and apps.


Secure relationships are important for children to feel comfortable when they go out and explore the world. 70% of young children have a cuddly toy (or a blanket) that they become emotionally attached to, and these can provide a sense of security for children, particularly in times of fear.

Decision Making

This is an important skill both for children to understand and express their personal preferences (e.g. choosing what sandwich to have for lunch) as well as learning to solve problems and use strategic thinking. Board and card games let children practise their decision-making skills; for instance, in the Dobble Card Game, children need to (quickly!) decide which pictures they will match together to win the game.

Following Instructions

Being able to follow instructions is key when children are at school and will allow them to learn many more skills and subjects. Young children may struggle to follow complex instructions but as their cognitive functioning develops they will progress from being able to follow the direction “pick up the ball” to following “pick up the green car and put it in the garage”. Apps like Learning Time with Timmy are a fun way to help children practise following instructions such as this, by asking children to “find the bear” or “tap the yellow circle”.

Managing Feelings

Learning to deal with and express their emotions appropriately (for example, not hitting someone when they are angry) helps children build successful relationships but also recognise what makes them happy, sad, angry, etc. The Worry Eater is a lovely toy that encourages children to reflect on problems they are experiencing and share how they are feeling.


Being able to keep going despite failure or difficulty is a useful skill for children to have, as challenging their skills and moving out of their comfort zone helps them learn and progress. Puzzles are good for encouraging perseverance as they offer challenging but achievable tasks. Penguins on Ice is a pentomino style puzzle that requires children to keep attempting different solutions to complete the game. The Crazy Gears app also gives children progressively harder problem-solving challenges to encourage perseverance.

Self Confidence

Confidence is not only a key skill for building relationships but also for children to have enough self-belief to attempt new things and feel good about themselves when they achieve. The Nursery Rhyme Hand and Finger Puppet Set encourage children to perform, building their confidence speaking in front of others (particularly if they have an applauding audience!).

Turn-taking and Sharing

Children who cannot share are likely to be an unpopular choice for a playmate and they can struggle to make friends as a result. Board games are good for practising taking turns, while toys like the Playmobil Fire Station or the My First Kit encourage social play.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development may not seem as important as Maths or English, but it is key to supporting a child all the way through their lives and developing a healthy, confident individual.

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