Sep 13 2023

100+ Social-Emotional Skills IEP Goals [The Complete List]

Positive Action Staff
Social-emotional IEP goals make it possible for educators to support the mental health of high-risk learners. Social-emotional skills form the foundation of how students interact with their peers, respond to stressors, and process their thoughts and feelings both in and out of the classroom.

The goal of social-emotional learning is for students to develop five core competencies:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Social Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Relationship Skills
  • Responsible Decision-Making

When equipped with these competencies, children are better prepared to socialize productively and manage their emotions. Social-emotional skills carry through into adulthood, which is why it's so important for educators to teach them from a young age.

Trauma, anxiety, and behavioral disorders can impact a child's mental health in profoundly adverse ways, more so if that child lacks one or more SEL competencies.

Some children need more time to develop social-emotional skills than others. It’s essential that you create a learning plan for these students to track their progress. Incorporating SEL goals into a behavioral IEP lets you focus your attention on a student’s most pressing needs.

Here is a list of over 100 social-emotional IEP goals curated by our experts at Positive Action to get you started.

Self-Awareness/Emotional Regulation

Goal: ________ will identify and manage feelings (i.e., anger, anxiety, stress, frustration) on a daily basis with ________ frequency as measured by ________ .


  1. Relate situations in which one experiences a given emotion.
  2. Say NO to an inappropriate request.
  3. Accept NO for an answer.
  4. Recognize signs of frustration.
  5. Manage unreasonable fears.
  6. Identify appropriate ways to convey emotions like pleasure and anger.
  7. Practice ways to reduce anxiety and stress in real and simulated situations.

Goal: ________ will identify and express feelings/strengths about self and others with ________ frequency, (independent of teacher prompts and redirections) as measured by ________.


  1. Make positive statements about one’s qualities and achievements.
  2. Identify one’s areas of improvement.
  3. Name things one likes and dislikes about oneself.
  4. Show understanding of another's feelings.
  5. Identify other people’s accomplishments.

Goal: ________ will identify his level of anxiety and use a strategy to reduce his anxiety 50% of the time.


  1. Identify the level of his anxiety.
  2. Select an appropriate strategy to alleviate anxiety.
  3. Practice a strategy to reduce anxiety.
  4. Problem-Solving Skills

Goal: ________ will make appropriate decisions on a daily basis with ________ frequency as measured by ________ (teacher observation, checklist, anecdotal records, behavior checklist, self-evaluation, etc.).


  1. Collect necessary information to make decisions.
  2. Identify options available in making a decision.
  3. Determine which decisions can be made individually and which would require support from others.
  4. Identify the short- and long-term impact of various decisions.
  5. Choose solutions that best meet one’s needs.
  6. Arrange problems by importance.
  7. Follow through with a plan or modify the plan to meet goals.
  8. Voluntarily accept responsibility for one’s own behavior without making excuses.
  9. Say NO to unreasonable requests.

Alternatives to Conflict

Goal: ________ will manage conflicts on a daily basis with ________ frequency, independent of teacher support, with teacher support as measured by ________ (teacher observation, checklist, anecdotal records, behavior checklist, self evaluation, etc.).


  1. Distinguish which behaviors and language are acceptable and unacceptable.
  2. Identify situations that may lead to conflict.
  3. Constructively handle situations that may lead to conflict.
  4. Ask for assistance to resolve a conflict after an independent attempt.
  5. Appropriately state angry feelings to the person involved.
  6. Control one’s temper in conflict situations.
  7. Respond appropriately to peer pressure.
  8. School/Classroom Skills

Goal: ________ will control impulsive behavior with ________ frequency as measured by ________.


  1. Demonstrate difference between impulsive and self-controlled behavior.
  2. Practice self-controlled behaviors in real or simulated situations.
  3. Identify potential consequences of impulsive behavior in real and simulated situations.

Goal: ________ will remain on task and work independently with ________ frequency as measured by ________.


  1. Ignore distractions while completing independent work.
  2. Work steadily with attention focused on the task.
  3. Stay on task when adults enter or leave the classroom.
  4. Independently begin tasks from a prearranged schedule.
  5. Attempt to independently resolve problems with an assignment before asking for help.

Goal: ________ will follow directions given by teacher or staff or other adults with ________ frequency as measured by ________.


  1. Follow the verbal direction in a timely manner.
  2. Read and follow written directions in a timely manner and with cooperation.
  3. Comply with timeout requests near or at own desk.
  4. Comply with teacher requests within reasonable time span.
  5. Follow classroom rules when lead teacher is not present.
  6. Recognize inability to understand directions and seek clarification or assistance before proceeding with task.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of class rules by complying with rules during class time.

Goal: ________ will display productive school behavior on a daily basis with ________ frequency as measured by ________.


  1. Attend school consistently.
  2. Attend all scheduled appointments regularly and promptly.
  3. Complete assigned work on a daily basis.
  4. Attempt tasks that may be considered challenging and be willing to take a risk with new material.
  5. Accept correction appropriately.
  6. Adapt effectively to change (e.g. assemblies, fire drills, schedule changes, seat assignments, new students or exiting students).
  7. Ask for help when needed.
  8. Volunteer an answer to the teachers question in a voice tone, volume and physical manner appropriate to the situation.
  9. Use appropriate language.
  10. Identify and follow rules in the lunchroom, bathroom, halls, and bus.

Goal: ________ will engage in appropriate group activity (play, academics, classroom discussion, etc.) with ________ frequency as measured by ________.


  1. Use appropriate phrases (such as "please” and “thank you").
  2. Lead or present to group (e.g., present oral reports, initiate group activity).
  3. Participate in a discussion led by the teacher by listening, raising hand, and waiting to be recognized.
  4. Wait quietly and respectfully while others are speaking.
  5. Ask permission if wanting to give or receive physical contact (ex. hug).

Goal: ________ will respect property of others and school property according to classroom and/or school rules with ________ frequency as measured by ________.


  1. Ask permission to use another's property.
  2. Demonstrate correct use of classroom equipment and materials.
  3. Use and return borrowed items to the owner in original condition.
  4. Distinguish someone else's property from one’s own.
  5. Return all equipment to the proper storage place.
  6. Transportation and Public Conduct

Goal: ________ will use appropriate behaviors while riding a vehicle (ex., bus) with ________ frequency as measured by ________.


  1. Remain in seat with the seat belt fastened while the bus is in motion.
  2. Keep hands and feet to self and inside the vehicle.
  3. Speak in appropriate language, volume, tone or voice.
  4. Respect rights and property of others on the bus.
  5. Comply with the bus driver's directions.
  6. Social/Interpersonal Skills

Goal: ________ will increase conversation skills to stick to the topic at hand.

Objectives: Identify what happened first, in the middle, and last regarding a previously read story, past event, or situation.

State the main idea of the story, video, or situation 4/5 opportunities to do so.

Goal: ________ will develop social understanding skills as measured by the benchmarks listed below.

Objectives: Engage in appropriate turn-taking skills by attending to peer’s turn and waiting for one’s own turn 4/5 opportunities to do so.

Work cooperatively with peers in small group settings (ex., share materials, allow peers to share different thoughts) 4/5 opportunities to do so.

Raise their hand and wait to be called on before talking aloud in group settings 4/5 opportunities to do so.

Goal: ________ will increase social-emotional skills as measured by the benchmarks listed below.

Objectives: Identify various simple emotional states in self 4/5 opportunities to do so.

State what would be an appropriate response to a particular emotional state 4/5 opportunities to do so.

State why a person might be feeling a particular emotion 4/5 opportunities to do so.

Goal: ________ will demonstrate appropriate play skills, peer relations, cooperative learning and assertiveness with ________ (frequency) as measured by ________.


  1. Learn and follow the rules when playing an organized game.
  2. Engage in cooperative play with at least one other peer.
  3. Display effort in a competitive game situation.
  4. Use assertive behavior in resisting harmful peer pressure.
  5. Take appropriate action in supporting a person whose rights are being violated.
  6. Refrain from interrupting others in conversation.
  7. Wait his/her turn in games or activities.
  8. Appropriately express feelings when wronged.
  9. Identify aggressive, assertive, and passive behaviors and styles.
  10. Accept responsibility for changing own behaviors.
  11. Practice assertiveness skills in real and simulated situations.
  12. Engage in appropriate behavior when confronted with inappropriate behavior.
  13. Handle defeat in a competitive game situation by congratulating the winner without grumbling or engaging in other negative behaviors.
  14. Identify appropriate behavior when presented with real or simulated situations involving peer pressure.
  15. Take appropriate action in supporting a person whose rights are being violated.

Other Sample IEP Goals without Objectives

Social Skills/Life Skills/Emotional Regulation

  1. During unstructured play times, ________ will interact with peers in an appropriate manner by maintaining personal space and a respectful voice for an average 80% of intervals, measured over a two-week period.

  2. When given scenarios of social conflicts, ________ will demonstrate problem-solving skills by identifying the problem and generating two solutions appropriate to the situation in 4/5 trials, as measured by data collection.

  3. During recess, ________ will initiate and begin a back-and-forth conversation exchange (for example, greeting and asking about a shared interest, such as a TV show, or asking if the peer enjoys crafts/art) with one of the previously identified classmates independently with 80% success across 3 consecutive weeks.

  4. ________ will acquire two new social skills per quarter to a level of ________ % accuracy including initiating conversations with peers and adults, participating in turn-taking during structured activities and recognizing positive social interactions.

  5. Given direct instruction and visual supports, ________ will obtain two new life skills per quarter, including bathroom and hygiene routines. He/She will perform the skill independently to a level of 70% accuracy.

  6. ________ will increase his/her social communication skills by refining four skills including requesting help and using pictures or words in order to have basic needs met 3 out of 5 opportunities to do so.

  7. ________ will increase his independent work time by completing one task with one or fewer adult prompts 3 out of 5 opportunities to do so.

  8. ________ will demonstrate the accurate use and understanding of statements and questions by increasing the accurate use of these sentence forms 4 out of 5 opportunities to do so.

  9. In the classroom environment, ________ will utilize positive self-talk and coping strategies to handle stressful situations or work demands in which he/she manifests anxious or withdrawn behavior (i.e. putting head down, saying he/she can't do something), demonstrated by engaging in the 30-minute activity or situation in a calm and positive manner with one prompt on 2/3 occasions.

  10. When ________ becomes upset, frustrated, or angry, he will use a self-regulation/coping strategy (movement break, deep breathing, quiet space break, deep pressure/heavy work activity, etc.) to avoid engaging in unexpected behavior, with one reminder, on 4 out of 5 opportunities, as measured by observations and documentation.

  11. When given a frustrating situation (i.e. undesired task, demand, and/or undesired peer behavior), with one prompt ________ will utilize coping strategies (i.e. take a break, deep breaths, etc.) and return to and remain on task with a calm body and mind for a minimum of 10 minutes with an average of 95% over 8 consecutive school weeks, across all classroom environments.

  12. ________ will refrain from physical aggression (i.e. kicking, hitting, pushing, tripping) across all environments in school, for 4 consecutive weeks, with all adults and children as measured by event data.

  13. Through the use of Self-Monitoring checklists, ________ will reduce instances of passive non-compliance (becomes purposely and increasingly distracted through ignoring tasks, demands, or staff directives) to an average of 20% of intervals or less, both across all educational environments and within each educational environment, as measured across a one week period.

  14. ________ will demonstrate the ability to recognize expected and unexpected behaviors as well as rate his own behavior as part of his self-monitoring system with 80% accuracy as compared to teacher ratings of behavior.

  15. ________ will allow themselves to be mad or frustrated without hurting 90% of observed opportunities.

If you believe that SEL will benefit your students, talk to your fellow teachers and your school’s leadership about adopting Positive Action as part of your social-skills program.

If you’d like to learn more about how Positive Action program can help your school or district contact us here.


  • IEP Goals and Objectives Bank (Redmond, Oregon). Retrieved from here.

  • National Association of Special Education Teachers. Examples of IEP Goals and Objectives: Suggestions for Students with Autism. Retrieved from here.

  • Rhode Island Department of Education. Examples of IEP Goals for Social and Emotional Skills and Learning. Retrieved from here.

  • Smithey, Ashley. IEP Goal Bank. Retrieved from here.

  • Social Emotional Goals. Retrieved from here.