Even before the pandemic, though, kids and adults alike were having a hard time coping with life and dealing with their emotions due to the wild world we currently live in. Teens are battling extreme dysregulation, and even kids are being hospitalized for their mental health at alarming rates.
For this reason, many experts are saying social-emotional learning is more important than ever. But why?
How Social-Emotional Learning Helps Children
Social-emotional learning has become quite the buzzword in recent years, and for good reason. These skills help people develop and utilize skills that help them cope with emotions and socialize with others — skills which seem to be lacking anytime you turn on the television or read the newspaper. Furthermore, these skills can help people overcome distressing moments and deal with challenges the world throws at them, which I think we can all agree applies more than ever.
According to the team at Understood.Org, a nonprofit focused on helping children with learning differences find success, there are five types of social-emotional skills children utilize in their daily lives. These skills include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, interpersonal skills, and decision-making.
Self-awareness skills help children identify their emotions and recognize their strengths. By labeling emotions, children can accurately convey what they’re feeling to peers or adults without throwing a tantrum or harming themselves. They can also recognize their strengths and remind themselves of these strengths during challenging times, which is a part of a healthy growth mindset.
Closely connected, self-management skills can help children learn to regulate their own emotions when they feel distressed. This can help kids avoid impulsive or harmful behavior, and it can help them refocus their attention towards their goals. Then, decision-making skills can help them make decisions informed by their emotional awareness while also helping them connect possible consequences to their actions.
Social awareness skills help children show empathy, compassion, and an appreciation for diversity. Then, interpersonal skills help children communicate with others, resolve conflicts, and work cooperatively. Together, these skills can help children make friends and build lasting relationships with their peers.
With strong social-emotional skills, children can build positive relationships within their lives and face nearly any daily challenge that comes up. This can ultimately help children flourish in all aspects of their lives.
Ways To Foster Social-Emotional Skills At Home
As you can imagine, all of these social-emotional skills are important, but kids aren’t born with them. Therefore, we must help our children develop these skills at home as much as possible.
In many cases, mindfulness exercises can help children develop social-emotional skills and a deeper connection with their own feelings. In fact, the team at the multi-brand wellness retailer Standard Dose is now expanding their offerings just to help children hone their social-emotional skills. According to Standard Dose’s founder, the company “really wanted to provide tools to help nurture kind, confident, and emphatic humans who are equipped to navigate our changing world.”
Rooted in evidence-based techniques, their newly-launched Mindful Kids product line includes mindful games, gratitude journals, yoga flashcards, and other tools that encourage children to become aware of their thoughts, understand big feelings, and manage stress. These new, inclusive tools can help children foster understanding and awareness to help children cope with big feelings like loss, frustration, and anger — which the pandemic has only increased.
In addition to mindfulness techniques, the National Association for the Education of Young Children says there are many tools parents can utilize to help their children develop social-emotional skills at home.
For example, puppets are a great way to work through several social-emotional skills. Puppets can help children understand emotions, practice conflict resolution, and discuss complicated topics in a fun, engaging way.
Most importantly, though, parents can foster social-emotional skills at home just by modeling the skills in their own actions. Children love observing their parents and often learn a lot through just watching how adults act on a daily basis. Parents can use this to their advantage and model healthy coping skills when they experience difficult emotions and demonstrate empathy, conflict resolution, and compassion when interacting with others. Children can learn a lot just from seeing you do these small things.
Social-emotional skills are needed now more than ever. Luckily, it’s not hard for parents to foster these skills in their children and help them grow in all the best possible ways.