Social Goals For 3rd Graders (A Parent’s Guide)

In third grade your child is likely to have a best friend or group of best friends, they are more aware of their own self-talk, and they can understand others as three dimensional people.

They are developing skills in the areas of self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, belonging and decision making. 

Third grade students are making big social jumps and there are sure to be some bumps in the road. 

Help your child identify ways they can use courage and perseverance to solve social conflicts and maintain healthy relationships. 

Social Goals For 3rd Graders (A Parent’s Guide)

Third grader’s social-emotional development centers around interacting with peers and making choices that lead to healthy relationship. 

Typically third graders will be able to: 


I can have more than one emotion at the same time

I can identify weakness and I can grow and change

I can identify groups in society that help form my identity 

I can identify calming strategies that work for me

I can set long term and short term goals

I experience a wide range of emotions, I can name them and understand that they change

Social Awareness and Belonging

I can identify ways to show kindness, respect and integrity 

I can make positive choices when interacting with my peers

I can develop a habit of gratitude 

I can understand how stereotypes are harmful

Decision Making

I can define empathy and brainstorm ways to show it

I can identify social norms

I can follow safety guidelines

In third grade children really move away from seeing others as simply observers of their lives to full people with their own experiences of the world. 

This shift may cause social stress and conflict.

Help your child navigate this by brainstorming solutions to social conflicts.

Talk about things they could say and do to maintain healthy relationships with their friends.

Third graders may experience insecurity and need encouragement and affirmation.

This is normal, but if you are concerned that these bouts of insecurity frequent or do not go away, talk to your pediatrician.  

Examples of Social-Emotional Goals for Third Grade

Setting social-emotional goals may be a great way to approach conversations with your growing child. 

Be sure to set these goals together with your child and be sure they clearly state what the child will do. 

  • I will use calming strategies when I start to feel anxious
  • I will use kind and respectful language with my family
  • I will name my emotions and ask for help if I feel overwhelmed
  • I listen when my friends are talking to me
  • I will get to know new people

Many school systems  have social-emotional learning (SEL) guidelines that are organized by grade level.

These documents may offer suggestions to activities that support these skills. 

Reach out to your school if you are looking for resources for social-emotional learning or discussions with your child. 

How do you set social goals?

Setting social goals with your growth child requires both parent and child to be honest about their social concerns and goals. 

Children should guide the conversation whenever possible as goals they come up with themselves will be more meaningful to them. 

Start With Skills

If your child is experiencing social stress at school, brainstorm what skills would help your child in that situation. 

Perhaps your child is anxious about choosing a lunch table at school. 

Could they ask a friend to sit with them?

Could they ask to sit at a table?

Could they sit confidently alone?

Could they bring a book to read at lunch? 

Any solution that works for your family is acceptable. 

Support the Skill

Be sure that you check in your child regularly to see if they need help with the goals they are working on. 

Each time your child makes progress on their goal, be sure to mark the progress with a reward. 

Involve Professionals 

A talk with your pediatrician is a great idea whenever you have a concern. 

Pediatricians are trained in child development and they can help you understand what is normal and what should be addressed. 

Your pediatrician should be able to direct you to any resources that can support your child’s social-emotional development. 

Contact your child’s teacher as well to see if they are seeing the same behavior at school that is concerning you at home.

They may have insight as they see your child interact with their peers daily. 

Social Goals and IEPs

Individualized Education Plans or IEPs often include social-emotional goals.

These goals are written by the IEP team. 

These goals are written in a way that they can be monitored and reported on each time the IEP team meets. 

SEL goals on IEPs may look like:

Justice will follow safety guidelines on the playground with 90% accuracy. 

Charlie will identify their emotions when prompted by the classroom teacher with 80% accuracy. 

Skyler will set short term goals for each week with the guidance counselor and long term goals with her teacher quarterly. 

IEP goals are important because they allow parents, teachers, guidance counselors and case workers to monitor the social emotional growth of the child.

This can help signal appropriate support for the child. 

How to Support Your Third Grader’s Social Development

The most important way for you to support your third grader’s social development is to create a safe open environment to express emotions at home. 

Talk About Feelings

Model healthy vocabulary when discussing your emotions. Emotions are normal and natural. 

Talk about your emotions, positive and negative. Resist the urge to apologize for experiencing emotions . 

Talk about how your feelings change over time and strategies you are using to manage your emotions. 

If you need support building a healthy vocabulary around emotions, talk to your school or pediatrician and ask for resources.  

Read Books Together

Reading builds empathy by exposing your child to situations that they have not experienced.

Reading about children in different family situations, parts of the world, and different challenges can spark important conversations about how these children may be experiencing the world. 

Talk to your librarian about books that address issues that your family is dealing with.

They may be able to direct you to some books to help support difficult discussions. 

Ask For Help

It can be overwhelming to help your child learn to manage their emotions.

Reach out to other parents to discuss your concerns. 

Ask how they are dealing with these changes in their children and see how you can support each other in your parenting.  

Professional help is another option for the whole family.

Family counseling can be a great tool for learning communication and coping strategies together. 

Setting Social Goals for Third Grade

Third grade is a big transition for many students and the social learning curve can be steep. 

Support your child by identifying areas of growth and brainstorming skills to solve social conflicts. 

While insecurity at this age can be very normal, contact your pediatrician if you are concerned that your child is not experiencing the normal range of emotions. 

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Social Goals For 3rd Graders