Social and Emotional Learning: Strategies for Parents
No matter whether it’s referred to as “social and emotional learning” or “emotional intelligence,” the vast majority of people agree that it’s critical to pay attention to the development of the whole young person, which includes character development. It is the responsibility of both parents and children to raise an emotionally self-aware and respectful child who understands how to manage his or her emotions and make responsible decisions, as well as how to resolve conflicts non-violently. Create an environment of trust, respect, and support in your home by following these guidelines: Maintaining “emotionally intelligent” behaviour in the home is the first step in raising emotionally intelligent children. At school, you can collaborate with other members of your school community to create an environment that promotes social and emotional learning both inside and outside the classroom.
Some specific steps you can take to help your child develop emotional intelligence are outlined below, as well as additional resources that you can use to learn more about the subject of social and emotional learning.
Strategies At Home
Make an effort to be a good listener. The Chief Operating Officer of Six Seconds, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting emotional intelligence in families, schools, corporations, and communities, Joshua Freedman, describes listening as a “core competency skill” in his organisation. The problem is that it is not always followed by either parents or children. Check out Freedman’s article on the subject, which is just one of the many useful parenting resources available at KidSource Online. For a list of strategies and activities for improving listening skills, go to KidSource Online.
Make an example of the behaviour you want to see. Parents teach their children a great deal about interpersonal relationships by modelling behaviours such as apologising when you’re wrong and treating others with respect and kindness. Children learn a great deal about relationships by watching their parents in action. The “24K Golden Rule,” according to Maurice Elias, co-author of two books on emotionally intelligent parenting, states that parents should always consider the impact of their actions on children and be as particular about what they do with their children as they would want others to be about their children. Check out an interview with Elias on Edutopia about the importance of social and emotional learning at home, as well as a video of him discussing why SEL should be a part of every student’s academic life. Elias is also a regular blogger for Edutopia, where he writes about social and emotional learning and other related topics.
Enhance your child’s sense of self-worth. Having a positive self-image helps children to be happier, more well-adjusted, and achieve higher levels of success in school. Giving your child responsibilities, allowing her to make age-appropriate decisions, and expressing her appreciation for a job well done are all effective strategies for fostering self-esteem in children.
Differences should be respected. Every child possesses a set of abilities and talents that are distinct from the others. If your child is performing poorly in academics, athletics, or interpersonal relationships, resist the temptation to compare him or her to friends or siblings. Instead, celebrate your child’s achievements and offer him support and encouragement as he faces the inevitable challenges that will come his way.
Make use of the resources available to you. During times of family crisis, such as a divorce or the death of a close friend or family member, seek the advice and support of school counsellors or other social services. Never forget that regardless of your relationship with your child, she may feel more comfortable discussing a troubling family situation with someone else she knows and trusts.
Strategies At School
Examine the efforts being made by your school to promote social and emotional learning. Keep in mind that programmes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are referred to by a variety of names, including character education, leadership, conflict resolution, and peer mediation, among others. According to the author, there are four ideal components of a school’s social-emotional learning programme: a specific programme to support social-emotional learning, problem-prevention and health promotion activities, support services to help students deal with transitions, crises, and conflicts, and a commitment to community service activities. Inquire with your child, his teacher, and the principal of your child’s school about activities and programmes in each of these important areas.
Organize guest speakers to speak at your event. Consult with the parent organisation at your school to identify experts in your community who can speak to parents and teachers about strategies for raising emotionally intelligent children.
Participate in the discussion. If you are interested in volunteering for a school or school district committee that oversees the implementation of programmes to support social and emotional learning, consider becoming a member. Take note that, at the district level, these programmes are frequently (though not always) associated with a department of safety or violence prevention.
Diversity should be celebrated. Collaborate with other parents and school staff to plan programmes and events that will celebrate and honour the many cultures represented in your school’s student population.
Let’s get the conversation started. In the absence of existing social and emotional learning programmes in your school or community, collaborate with others in your school and the larger community to develop what Linda Lantieri, co-founder of the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, director of the Inner Resilience Program, and consultant for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, refers to as a “web of support.” Bring together leaders from all sectors of your community — business owners and law enforcement officers, parents and educators — to discuss how your community can prioritise the emotional health and well-being of children.