Creating strong bonds

New CME module: Gauging social-emotional development in young patients

The AOA and Erikson Institute collaborate on the second in a series of three educational modules focused on early childhood development.


Healthy social and emotional development are crucial components of well-being, and primary care physicians are in a unique position to help young patients achieve important milestones in these areas.

Recognizing this, the AOA has partnered with the Erikson Institute to produce continuing medical education modules focused on early childhood development. It recently released a module focused on social-emotional development. This is the second module in a three-part series from the project: “All It Takes is H.E.A.R.T.: An Early Childhood Development Initiative.”

The module has been approved for 2 AOA Category 1-B CME credits and provides information that will help those who provide health care services for children 8 years old and younger to understand the importance of social-emotional development. Both physicians and medical students are eligible for a professional development certificate from the Erikson Institute if they complete all three modules in the series.

Understanding the importance of social-emotional development

Healthy social-emotional development largely influences a child’s ability to realize their potential in leading a productive, successful and satisfying life.

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“A child’s perception of their world is a culmination of their social-emotional development,” says Scott S. Cyrus, DO, a pediatrician in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a member of the curriculum workgroup creating the modules. “Their reaction to stresses, their performance in school and their interaction with their friends and family is reflective of their early exposure in their environment. Their exposure to love and affection early is typically reflected by healthy behavior, and likewise, violence and toxic stress can create many difficulties for them.”

The social-emotional development module will provide participants with milestones of typical and atypical social-emotional development, an understanding of how to recognize when to make a referral, and general resources for referrals.

“Osteopathic physicians are uniquely qualified to address the social-emotional development of the child,” Dr. Cyrus notes. “However, they must take the time to be aware of the developmental pitfalls facing children and help guide parents to a healthy solution.”

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