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Social & Emotional Development of Children With Working Parents

by Rachel Pancare, studioD

While working parents might rue the lack of time they have to spend with their children, they should remember that social and emotional growth depends on a variety of factors, only some of which relate to them. According to PBS Parents, "Differences in social and emotional development result from a child's inborn temperament, cultural influences, disabilities, behaviors modeled by adults, the level of security felt in a child's relationships with adults and the opportunities provided for social interaction." Instead of feeling guilty, focus on the developmental benefits of early independence.


Children of working parents have an opportunity to become independent at a younger age. They can learn skills such as preparing their own snacks, choosing their own outfits and finding their own entertainment. According to PBS Parents, even 5-year-olds gain self-esteem from feeling capable and demonstrating new skills. Children of working parents also become more socially comfortable, spending extra time with babysitters, after-school staff, neighbors or friends. According to a "Psychology Today" article titled "The Power of Prime: Parenting: Raising Independent Children," children need guidance, love and support from their parents as they grow, but should begin to become less reliant on them as they grow.

Responsibility and Motivation

Parents are the first role models children have. By watching two working parents, children gain an understanding of responsibility. They watch their parents follow schedules, set objectives and meet deadlines, and consequently they learn about integrity, organization and follow-through. Parents can teach their children that working hard leads to results. These children often grow to feel self-confident and driven. They might develop long-term academic or personal goals. When mothers work, their daughters see that women can be wives and mothers while also maintaining a career.


Working parents sometimes have a negative effect on their children's social and emotional development. According to Clinical Depression Cure, children with two working parents can feel neglected and long for parental attention. They might feel the absence of their parents and isolate themselves. Parents should look for signs that their children are feeling lonely or distressed. If you see evidence of emotional or physical discomfort, your child might be suffering. Sit down and talk to her about how she is feeling or seek professional guidance.


Some children become more insecure when both of their parents work. If parents do not show them enough affection and attention when they are home, these children may develop anxiety and trust issues. They become more clingy, attempting to compensate for the attention they're lacking. According to a "Parents Magazine" article titled "Flying Solo: Raise an Independent Kid," "In order to grow in the ways they need to grow, children have to take the lead, and usually away from us." However, they still need to know that we are there to protect, support, guide and love them.

About the Author

Rachel Pancare taught elementary school for seven years before moving into the K-12 publishing industry. Pancare holds a Master of Science in childhood education from Bank Street College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Skidmore College.

Photo Credits

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