Social and emotional learning (SEL) is one of the most important aspects that will affect the overall development of your children and their future.
With a limited education system at work, it’s important for parents to ensure that their children know more than just their numbers and alphabets!
While traditional knowledge will definitely be important, it can’t replace your child’s need for social and emotional well-being. We are all in a very strange place today – big social, political, and technological changes are going on.
While knowing maths and geography is certainly important, they can’t help the many mental and emotional health concerns that are threatening the future generation. Parents and teachers must teach kids about more than just their school syllabus.
To ensure your child’s overall emotional and mental well-being, you have to become an active parent. Along with positive parenting, modeling, and teaching a growth mindset, you also need to ensure their social and emotional well-being.
What Is Social-Emotional Learning?
Academic prowess can’t be undermined, but it can’t alone sail your child through life successfully. They must know when to speak, when to express gratefulness or remorse, how to behave towards others and face the many setbacks of life.
In other words, social and emotional skills must be worked on and developed right from childhood. These social-emotional skills all come under the umbrella term Social–Emotional Learning (SEL).
SEL includes social-emotional skills like emotional regulation, self-discipline, decision-making, self-analysis, proper social behavior, managing emotions, and learning how to set goals.
Social-emotional learning activities can prepare young children for the real world and condition them to deal with challenges much more effectively. A child who had his/her parents integrate social-emotional learning early in life has healthier habits and more successful life.
Developing social-emotional skills is a practice in emotional intelligence and self-awareness. According to pioneering psychologist Daniel Goleman, EQ is even more important than IQ as far as successful and satisfying life is concerned.
How Will Your Child Benefit From SEL?
If you still think that emotional and social skills are secondary to academic achievements, these benefits will convince you otherwise.
Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of SEL as concluded by many studies done by various institutions:
Improved Academic Results
According to a 2011 survey of over 270,000 students, those with SEL skills had an 11 percent jump in academic scores compared to the rest of them. Naturally, students who are secure about their feelings can focus better on the academic requirements.
Students with social and emotional skills have been 10 percent less likely to interrupt a classroom or show behavioral and psychological problems. As children learn to express themselves, it prevents unexpected outbursts and helps them express their feelings and manage emotions more appropriately.
Better Emotional And Mental Health
Children who have SEL skills tend to cope with emotional distress better than others. Research has suggested that anxiety, depression, stress, and other emotional health issues like those affect SEL students much less than the others.
Optimum Social Behaviour
Reports and studies have shown that when students have better SEL skills, they also are more positively associated in most social situations and exhibit good behavior. With better social and emotional skills, they form stronger and productive relationships with their peers and other members of society.
- Improved self-esteem
- Better attitude towards other people
- Strong empathy
- A stronger commitment to education
- Improved relationships with their peers and adults
- Reduced emotional stress
- Decrease in behavioral problem
- Better emotional expressions
- Setting and working towards goals with much more commitment.
- Better management of different emotions
In Pure Statistical Terms
- 20% improved reading skills
- 18% improvement in friendship with peers
- 85% reduction in behavioral problems
- 62% decreased involvement in violence
- 51% decrease in bullying
- 17% improvement in honesty
Who Else Benefits From Your Child’s Social-Emotional Learning?
Of course, your child’s quality of life will improve if they learn social-emotional skills, but they aren’t the only ones who are going to benefit from it.
A child who always behaves negatively at school, home, or at any other social event causes great distress not just to their own self but also to the others in their company.
For schools, it’s always difficult to deal with a kid that won’t behave because it ends up disturbing all other kids in the class. By introducing SEL in their curriculum, they can inculcate such awareness in all their students.
As for parents, when your child knows how to regulate their emotions and behavior, they develop a closer bond with their family, siblings and the rest of the family.
Children with better emotional intelligence and self-discipline are more responsible citizens and community members. They can appreciate the differences in people and contribute to the welfare of society at large.
Raising emotionally and socially skilled children wouldn’t be difficult if both parents and schools understand how big a role they play in it.
Children spend most of their time at home and school – that’s where they learn everything from. It’s high time both parents and teachers take their roles seriously by being themselves what they aspire to see in the children.
Teachers should also ponder on how they can better teach students the ways to develop their social-emotional skills. The most unfortunate fact is that not many schools and teachers care about teaching social-emotional skills – and this must change. Introducing social-emotional activities in schools can be a step-up.
The 5 Core Competencies
Every big goal or target has to be broken down into simpler goals for them to be achievable. The same goes for SEL as well.
The process of introducing SEL to young children actually goes through learning the five core competencies – the five major skills your child needs to learn. These are, namely:
- Social awareness
- Relationship skills
- Responsible decision-making
Let’s go through each of them to understand why and how they contribute to the social and emotional development of your child:
Self-awareness in and of itself refers to the child’s understanding of their own emotions, thoughts, motivations, and behavior.
If a child is not self-aware, it might be difficult for them to learn from their mistakes and grow above their weaknesses and impulses.
Self-awareness can be cultivated with self-reflection and introspection. A self-aware child can usually identify their own emotions, strengths, and weaknesses.
Social awareness refers to the ability to perceive the world around them with empathy and understanding.
To be socially aware, a child needs to learn how to empathize, appreciate and respect differences.
This can help them understand predicaments that others are facing and approach a problem with various perspectives. Social awareness can help your child fit into society and form stable and loving relationships.
Self-management is the ability to both regulate their emotions and control actions in a given situation or time.
A child with good self-management skills can practice self-discipline in order to solve a problem or achieve a goal successfully.
Self-management skills primarily include stress management, emotional regulation, executive functioning, impulse control, and self-discipline.
It can help your child avoid unwanted fights and help them to think and act rather than be impulsive and land in trouble. This can also help them achieve long-term goals with a grip on themselves.
Healthy relationships are extremely important for a child’s emotional welfare and their ability to interact with others successfully.
Developing social skills for maintaining healthy relationships requires a child to listen, cooperate, communicate, resolve conflict and make adjustments.
SEL can help children develop fulfilling relationships and tackle conflicts effectively with proper communication.
Decision-making is an important skill that will help young kids learn how to make the right decision with proper reasoning and considerations.
It doesn’t mean making impulsive choices, rather thinking things through and taking responsibility for whatever the outcome may be.
The key skills for responsible decision-making involve identification of the problem, problem-solving, situational analysis, and reflection.
A child has to learn the pros and cons of their choices and be willing to deal with the consequences of their decisions.
Role Of Self-Reflection For Learning Social And Emotional Skills
Self-reflection is one of the most important habits that your child – or even an adult – can develop for healthy social-emotional learning.
All the five core competencies of SEL are rooted in one major habit – the habit of self-reflection.
The most important thing about self-reflection is that it exercises an all-rounding set of skills for children who indulge in it. It’s important not to mistake self-reflection with daydreaming.
While daydreaming is mostly passive, free-moving fantasy indulgence, self-reflection is active, often tiring, and deals with questions, judgments, and revisiting decisions and their consequences with both logic and empathetic generosity.
A child that reflects eventually learns to make better decisions, improves his/her judgment and becomes more considerate of other perspectives.
Self-Reflection Activities For Children
Given the importance of self-reflection for the overall social-emotional development of a child, parents should invest time in teaching kids about some social-emotional activities that promote it.
While it might be a little easier to talk about self-reflection to your children and encourage them to “think it over,” it might not be that effective.
Children are not exactly thinkers in the way we are – they can focus and think when necessary, but for a habit to form, try these activities.
Ask your child to repeat any one of these 5 social-emotional activities every day or on regular dates to help them develop this habit and its benefits:
Three Ways Of Relaxing
Ask your child to write down the three ways of relaxing in case they get upset or are confronted by unpredictable and difficult situations. Such a list can come in handy and help your child calm down when the need arises.
What You Love About Yourself
All of us love at least one thing or more about ourselves. Writing it down can not just help your child self-love but also help them see good in themselves.
What they like about themselves is what they’ll want to be like more and more. This will help them develop their strengths and self-confidence.
One Problem In The World
Ask your child to write down about the one problem in the world that they would like to solve – no matter what it may cost.
This activity will not only spark their imagination but also help them understand what it is that they care about the most in the world and why.
An Act Of Kindness
Ask your child to think about a heartwarming act of kindness that someone has shown towards them, and they will never forget. Writing about kindness can be an optimistic experience, and it may prompt them to be kind towards others.
When You Need Help
All of us had our moments of weakness when we needed outside help to tackle a problem. Ask your child to write down if he/she asks for help when needed. If no, why not? If yes, whom do they ask for help?
This is an important activity that will help them understand the value of asking for help at the right time from the right person.
These five are solitary social-emotional activities that your child can keep up with by themselves after a while.
Writing can be a deeper form of thinking, and these questions will prompt them to reflect on various topics and matters of importance. It will promote them to develop reasoning and, in turn, facilitate social-emotional learning.
Once explained, they can carry on with the activity by themselves. After a while, you can add more questions for them.
What Can Parents Do?
The very core of SEL lies in self-reflection and thoughtfulness. Along with activities and practices to promote solitary self-reflection in children, what parents do and how they behave around their children can have a huge impact.
It goes without a doubt that parents can certainly do much more than merely teaching some activities to their children. Improving your own behavior and habits is a great way to integrate social-emotional learning into your children.
These activities and practices are certainly beneficial for both you and your children. Through these, you can not only incorporate social-emotional teaching but also deepen your bond with your child.
1. Take Care Of Yourself
It is too easy to overlook your own needs and requirements while trying to take care of the home, work, and children together.
What’s important to understand is that your self-care will not only teach positive acceptance and self-love to your child, it’ll also help you to be more involved in their learning process.
If you aren’t taking care of your own emotional, social and mental well-being, how can you expect your child to do so?
2. Establishing Routines
You might wonder how routines can have any role in the process of social and emotional well-being, but trust us on this – it has a huge role to play.
Establishing routines not only helps provide a sense of security and comfort to the children, but they can also inculcate a sense of discipline and punctuality.
Create a structure and time for things and stick to them.
3. Be Present
We know, sometimes it can get extremely overwhelming, but when you are with your children, give them your complete attention.
Don’t use your phone while your child tells you a story they heard. It’s very important that you be present for your children emotionally so that they don’t feel abandoned or unloved.
4. Be Kind
We can’t say it enough times – your children learn from what you do. Whenever you perform little acts of kindness, your children learn to do the same.
You can also make it a habit of asking every day about what act of kindness every family member did that day.
This simple habit in yourself might transform the way your child looks at strangers.
5. Get Creative!
Engaging in any form of creative activity with your children will give you time to bond well with them and learn about them.
Creativity often knocks down emotional walls you never knew existed.
6. Listen Actively
When children are talking about their “big problems,” it can be so easy to take them for granted. After all, they’re children! It can’t be worse than what an adult goes through, right? Wrong!
It’s important to remember that to your child, these events and talks are as important as they get. It’s extremely important you listen to them as you would want to be heard yourself.
How you listen to your child will set the tone for their long-term emotional well-being, something that they will grow with and that will stay with them forever. So it’s important for you to listen closely and with empathy when your toddler complains about the color of their dress.
At the end of it all, what’s important to remember is that everything takes time – the good and the bad.
Even if your child has some behavioral problems, remember that it’s not the end of the world – they aren’t permanently damaged.
Keep at the positive parenting and social-emotional learning with patience and kindness to see results in the long term. If you’d like, you can get free printables about SEL best practices here.
Meanwhile, remember to give yourself and your child a break when needed. With consistency and practice, you can help your child become an emotionally stable and socially responsible person.
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