This systematic review synthesized the research on interventions used by occupational therapy practitioners to promote social–emotional development in young children (birth–5 yr) with or at risk for disabilities. After a comprehensive search of the research literature, 23 studies were reviewed and then synthesized into five themes: (1) touch-based interventions to enhance calming and parent–infant bonding, (2) relationship-based interventions to promote positive caregiver–child interactions, (3) joint attention interventions, (4) naturalistic preschool interventions to promote peer-to-peer engagement, and (5) instruction-based interventions to teach children appropriate social behaviors. The interventions for infants primarily involved coaching parents in specific strategies to promote positive interactions; interventions for preschool-age children typically involved encouraging peer support, instructing children, and applying naturalistic behavioral techniques to develop higher-level social competence. The studies demonstrated low to moderate positive effects for interventions used by occupational therapy practitioners to improve social–emotional development across ages, diagnoses, and settings.

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