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Social-Emotional Development as a Key to Success

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2020
2 pages

This document describes what social-emotional skill development is, its importance for positive outcomes in individuals’ lives, its relevance for a tribal population, and how development of those skills can be supported.


This document addresses the importance of social-emotional skills for family relationships as well as school, workplace, and community cohesion; it also notes the importance for a variety of life outcomes such as reducing conduct problems, reducing emotional distress, and increasing positive well-being. Social-emotional skills also are specifically relevant to communities in that those skills can counter substance abuse and provide a buffer against negative outcomes such as criminal activity and addiction, including substance use disorder. The document defines social-emotional development as a process through which individuals acquire skills to increase self-awareness, improve interpersonal relationships, and achieve their goals. It explains the relevance of social-emotional skill development for tribal populations, including American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people, since it can offer an opportunity to support children, families, and communities in a synergistic way. The document lists specific social-emotional skills as being: skills regarding self; skills regarding others; and skills regarding decision-making. The document provides details about methods for developing social-emotional skills, which can be achieved through: naming; modeling; exploring; and practicing.