Image by: JD Hancock

Social Spy

Age Range
4-7 yrs
Setup Time
5 minutes!
Setup Location

Emotional development is a complex task that begins in infancy and continues into adulthood. As children begin to develop a sense of self, more complex emotions like shyness, surprise, elation, embarrassment, shame, guilt, pride and empathy emerge. Primary school children are still learning to identify emotions, to understand why they happen and how to manage them appropriately.

As children develop, the things that provoke their emotional responses change, as do the strategies they use to manage them. Children learn different ways of expressing emotion based on what is regarded as normal within their family and culture. Some families and cultures encourage children to express a range of emotions while other families encourage children not to display certain emotions, such as anger or pride. These differences also influence the ways children learn to regulate their emotions.

Learning to regulate emotions is more difficult for some children than for others. This may be due to their particular emotional temperament. Some children feel emotions intensely and easily. They are more emotionally reactive and find it harder to calm down. Some of these children react to frustration by getting angry. They may act impulsively and find it hard to control their emotions. Some children who are emotionally reactive get anxious more quickly and easily than other children. It is often difficult for children with anxious temperaments to develop strategies to manage their fears. They often try to avoid situations that worry them.

This activity helps children observe and make assessments. You can also use this activity in group situations to build more understanding and social bonding.


  1.  Give children a list of questions for them to answer by observing their peers (example: "which person looked sad?", "when was someone very happy?" etc.)

  2. You can involve a group of children in role play and another group of children who are 'observers'

  3. The 'observers' have to list down the key adjective that defines each person in the role play (example: angry, sad, upset, shy, meek etc.)

Disclaimer: This presents an overview of child development. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range of development. This information is presented to help parents understand, at a high level, what to expect from their child. Any questions/concerns you may have about your child’s development should be shared with your doctor.