North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Cognitive Development (CD)

Subdomain: Social Connections

Goal: Children recognize that they are members of different groups (e.g., family, preschool class, cultural groups).

Skill Progression: Recognize they are members of different groups

Age: 10-12 Months

You may choose a different domain, go back, or click on a skill below for more information.

Demonstrates separation distress

Situations for Observation of Skill

Observe the child when the parent or familiar adult leaves the room or goes out the door.

Elicitation Strategy

When the child is comfortable and happily playing, ask the parent or familiar adult to leave the room (observer should be where the child can’t see her).

Behavior Observed

The child shows distress when the parent or familiar adult leaves the room. He may fuss, try to follow, or cry.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

Reassure parents that separation distress and stranger anxiety are normal. These emotions indicate that the child recognizes familiar and unfamiliar people and has formed an attachment to the parent. This is a good thing. Children need to know that they can count on their parents to be close, to return when they have to leave, and to keep them safe. Encourage parents to handle separation quickly and confidently and not show distress themselves (even though they may feel it!) The parent needs to reassure the child of their return, give a hug and a kiss then leave, so as not to prolong the distress.

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit