Social Goals For 4th Graders (A Parent’s Guide)

Students in fourth grade are developing friendships and a greater sense of identity.

Children in fourth grade are growing in the areas of self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, decision making and relationships. 

As friendships become more important, 4th graders are better able to understand that other people experience the world differently than they do. 

Social Goals For 4th Graders (A Parent’s Guide)

As a general rule, you can expect fourth graders to have most of these skills: 


I can make connections between emotions and the situations that cause them. 

I can manage my emotions to increase my time on task. 

I can identify positive and negative self talk. 

I can identify social groups in society that make up my identity. 

I can make goals and plan steps to meet them

Social Awareness and Belonging

I can use courage and perseverance to meet goals. 

I can understand that friendships have levels and they frequently change

I can identify words, actions or signals that someone is experiencing a particular emotion. 

I can distinguish between a good friend and an acquaintance. 

I can identify stereotypes and why they are harmful.

I can describe actions that lead to making and keeping friends. 

I can talk about a conflict and brainstorm solutions

I can use various tones of voice to express emotion

Decision Making

I can understand how my friendships impact my behaviors and decision making.

I can respect the rights of myself and the rights of others. 

I can determine if a circumstance is within my control or outside of my control.

I can describe how different choices will result in different outcomes. 

I can use steps in systematic decision making. 

I can participate in programs that support my community and my school.

Examples of Social-Emotional Goals for Fourth Grade

Social emotional growth picks up in fourth grade and it may be helpful to set social goals with your child to help them see their progress over time. 

Setting social goals allows you to focus on one area and finding ways to support your child’s growth in that area. Social goals should focus on what your child will do:

  • I will use calming strategies to help me focus on my class work. 
  • I will write emails to my friend who moved away. 
  • I will choose to be grateful for the friends that I have. 
  • I will avoid situations that cause me anxiety. 
  • I will brainstorm solutions in my journal when I have conflict with a friend. 

Many states have social-emotional learning (SEL) guidelines for students. You can find these by searching your state’s department of education website. 

How do you set social goals?

Set social goals with your 4th grader to help them build confidence in their growing social skills. These social goals can be focused on building healthy relationships or self-management goals. 

Set Goals Together

When you are setting goals with your 4th grader the goals should start with them. They are becoming more aware of who they are and what they value in themselves and others. 

You may start by asking your child to list the things they love about themselves and things they admire about their friends. 

Use this list to start the conversation about qualities or skills that your child would like to grow in themselves. 

Support the Goals

When your child shares their goal, brainstorm ways together that you can meet those goals. 

If they find that they are fighting with close friends you may discuss communication skills or calming strategies. 

If your child struggles to name their emotions you may find that a visual cue chart may be helpful. 

Let the strategies support the goal. 

If you need resources or ideas for supporting your child’s social emotional growth reach out to your child’s guidance counselor or pediatrician. 

These helpers are trained in child development and they have a wealth of information to share. 

Connect the Goal with Actions

When you have made the goal and gathered support it is time to pair it with some actions. 

Maybe your child is feeling left out or lonely. Plan to join a club or sport and see if meeting kids with similar interests leads to new friendships. 

Self-management of behavior may require you to research calming techniques together and choose a few to try. A stress ball, using headphones, belly breathing or taking a walk are all possible strategies to use. 

When you have used a strategy for a few weeks, check in to see if your child is using the strategy and if they feel it is working. 

Follow their lead and keep trying things until you find what works. 

Call In Professionals

You may be noticing that your child seems to have multiple areas of growth in social emotional development. It would be a good conversation to have with the pediatrician. 

Your pediatrician can help you determine if your concern is part of normal development or if more support would be appropriate. 

Therapy or coaching can be very helpful for fourth grade students. A trusted adult outside of home and school may have valuable insight for you and your child. 

Celebrate Success

When your child meets a goal be sure to mark the event. 

Some fourth graders struggle to stay focused, your goal may involve staying on task to complete homework. 

Each time your child does their work without needing redirection, reward that action!

These celebrations can be as small as a high five, but noticing progres can go a long way towards forming positive social habits. 

Social Goals and IEPs

Social-emotional goals or SEL goals may be part of an Individualized Education Plan for a student with an identified disability. 

SEL gaols are developed by the IEP team which usually consists of:

Guidance counselors

Classroom teachers


School administration 

Special Education Teachers or Case Workers

These goals are written in such a way that they can be measured and recorded. 

An SEL IEP goal may be something like:

  • Aiden will use calming strategies to avoid missing classwork with 90% accuracy
  • Carmen will use respectful language with teachers and classmates with 80% accuracy
  • Eva will set goals each quarter and create steps to accomplish the goal.

These goals will be monitored by the IEP team and the data collected will be discussed at each IEP meeting. 

How to Support Your Fourth Grader’s Social Development

The best way to support your child’s social emotional growth is to create a safe and open environment at home. 

Spend time as a family talking about feelings. Talk about how events have made you feel and how you deal with negative emotions like anger or frustration. 

Always use respectful communication practices in your home. This means listening to understand not to fix and assuming positive intentions when approaching conflict. 

Reading books together is another great way to open up conversations about healthy relationships and emotions. 

If your pediatrician suggests it, family counseling can be a great way to support your whole family as you create a safe open environment for emotional growth. 

Setting Social Goals for Fourth Grade

Setting goals with your fourth grader is an opportunity to share open and honest thoughts about friends, family and communication. 

Set goals together and mark progress made towards the goal. 

Creating a safe and open environment where all voices are heard and respected will help support social emotional development in your child.

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Social Goals For 4th Graders