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Young Children's Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Young Children's Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Fourth Edition

August 2014 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Young children’s personal, social and emotional development is of central importance to all those working in the Early Years.


Offering thought-provoking questions and practical suggestions to help readers to reflect on and develop their own practice, this fourth edition of Marion Dowling’s much-loved book has been fully updated to include:

  •  Expanded coverage of key topics including independent thinking, living and learning with others, and dispositions for learning
  • A new chapter on ‘Vulnerable Children and Fragile Families’, with sections on identifying risk, talking to families, and safeguarding and protection
  • Guidance for working with parents in every chapter
  • Updated links to the EYFS and a focus on two year olds.


This is essential reading for all Early Years students and practitioners, and anyone working with or caring for young children.

The Seeds of Confidence and Competence
Confidence and Competence for Learning
Living with Others
Learning with Others
Becoming Independent
Independent Thinkers
Emotional Well-being
Influences on Young Children’s Well-being
Dispositions for Learning
Nurturing Dispositions to Learn
Young Children's Behaviour
Achieving Self- regulated Behaviour
Young Children's Spirituality
Living in the Wider World
Working with Families
Vulnerable Children & Fragile Families

'Marion continues to capture the essence of Personal Social and Emotional Development through this revised edition.  The updated sections of the book reflect the changing times young children experience in their lives and provide early years practitioners with opportunities to question and reflect on how they engage with children in their daily work. The author continues to share her thorough knowledge and understanding of the subject with quality enabling all to access the content.   This is an excellent resource for all working with young children providing rich links between theoretical insights and practical application.'

Dr Lesley Curtis
Headteacher/Head of Centre, Everton Nursery School and Family Centre, Liverpool

'It is very exciting to see this seminal text updated. The book has a modern, fresh look, with full colour pictures, which illustrate the text perfectly. The whole book shines with Marion Dowling’s wisdom and sensitive approach. This is especially apparent in the new chapter on Vulnerable Families, which is an increasingly vital area of work for the majority of practitioners. The updating of chapters on Independent Learning and Dispositions for Learning reinforces good practice, whilst including some instructive case studies. This is truly a book for all practitioners.'

Kathy Brodie
Independent Early Years Consultant

'Marion Dowling has rich experience of Nursery Education. She knows children well as creative and sociable young people, individual characters, passionate to share self-confidence in doing and learning. Confronting issues of management and care, she offers wise counsel, and support for those who love young children and learn with them.'

Colwyn Trevarthen
Professor (Emeritus) of Child Psychology and Psychobiology at The University of Edinburgh and a Vice-President of the British Association for Early Childhood Education

'It's rare that I begin a book and very quickly feel that I am learning so much that I want to read it cover to cover. Marion's wealth of expertise is reflected in her very clear thinking on issues, and she has a knack of writing 'quotable quotes' which capture material succinctly. The book layout is organised in reader-friendly sections, making material easy to absorb. Relevant case studies challenge the reader to apply their new knowledge to practice, and summary boxes emphasise key practice points. All this, alongside updated policy and critiques in this new edition, make this an excellent choice.'

Martin Harmer
Senior Lecturer, Teesside University

This is an excellent addition to any early education library. Marion Dowling takes key ideas from the latest research and presents them in an engaging, informative and accessible way which demonstrates their link with the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework. She makes good use of examples from practice showing how the ideas she explores can be reflected in our practice. At a time when increasing numbers of children , especially two year olds, are using early years provision it is an important reminder  of why and how we  focus on the needs of the child and their family. 



Bernadette Duffy OBE
Head of Centre, Thomas Coram Centre, Camden

"The new edition of this seminal book has so much new information and such an engaging new format, that I would recommend it to you – even if you already have one of the earlier issues."
-Kathy Brodie

Kathy Brodie
University of Chester

This is an excellent addition to our reading list. The book contains practical and theory based wisdom and offers fantastic examples to improve children's early experiences. The book is useful for parents, students and practitioners and provides useful insight to advise, acknowledge and model effective strategies in the home, in the work place and to facilitate prosocial interactions and behaviours in wider society.

Mrs Annabel Latham
School of Education, Aberystwyth University
July 29, 2021

This is a good resource for the Early Years foundation degree students which is relevant to several modules across two years of studies. The case studies are particularly well structured and useful for developing understanding of the chapter material. However, it would have been even better if the questions at the Reflection Points were differentiated and offer challenges of for the learners with different level of skills. At the end of the chapters there are useful Practical suggestions and summaries that help me as a teachers to summarise the lecture.

Ms Maryna Bentley
Early years Studies, Gloucestershire University
September 13, 2016

This is an excellent text, supporting students to develop a deep understanding of the Prime Area, Personal, Social and Emotional Development. The text highlights effective practice and encourages the reader to reflect on their own practice.

Miss Jackie Sumner
Childhood & Youth Studies, Edge Hill University
September 26, 2016

A key text. Thorough, captivating and thought-provoking.

Mrs Abigail Carolyn Gosling
Education Studies, Bedfordshire University
September 19, 2016

Sample Materials & Chapters

Ch 1. The Seeds of Confidence and Competence

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