Social-emotional development refers to a child’s experience, management and expression of emotions as well as their ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others (Cohen, 2005). Functionalists view emotion as an individual’s attempt to adapt to specific contextual demands (Lindon, 2012) and from this perspective emotions are seen as relational, intrapsychic phenomena linked to an individual’s goals, rather than purely internal. Emotions are influenced by an individual’s biological foundations and lived experience (Brownell, Kopp, & Kopp, 2010). For example, children who are born blind, and so have never seen a smile or frown, still exhibit these facial expressions themselves (Lindon, 2012). These expressions are the same across cultures, what differs are the social rules surrounding the emotional
Links: between symbolic play and cognitive language development have also been found. A study, which compared children in a preschool setting, found that children play differently in different settings and situations, with some settings encouraging more complex symbolic play than others (Marjanovic-Umek and Lesnik-Musek, 2001). Another study showed that symbolic play was more likely to occur when a child is interacting with peers that are familiar and liked (Lillard, 2001). Active and frequent engagement in symbolic/pretend play is considered a precursor to the development of ToM, a lack of willingness or ability to engage in this type of play is often used as an indicator for atypical social and cognitive development (Leslie, 1987). In conclusion then, through play a child can act out many different roles and explore and develop many aspects of their personality. Play facilitates the development of ToM and social-emotional understanding, which in turn aids cognitive development. All of these aspects combine and increase the likelihood of the child developing into a well-rounded and adjusted individual. It should also be noted that whilst much social-emotional understanding and cognitive and social development can be gained through play, its intrinsic value is in the enjoyment to be had by a child from simply playing with friends.