Updated: Sep 16
What is Social Emotional Learning?
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has been a hot topic at schools for the past few years but what is SEL and how can parents foster this at home? SEL broadly refers to how a person:
Regulates their emotions
Communicates with others
Uses compassion and empathy to understand the needs of other people
Builds relationships and
Makes good decisions
One of the most widely referred to frameworks for SEL is CASEL 5 which breaks down five important competencies that make up emotional intelligence. These 5 competencies are: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making. Within these 5 competencies we can work on social emotional skills that impact our overall emotional intelligence.
Why are Social Emotional Skills Important?
In a widely cited 2011 career builder survey, 71% of employers valued emotional intelligence (EQ) in an employee over IQ.
People with high EQ are more likely to:
Stay calm under pressure
Effectively resolve conflict resolution
Be empathetic towards peers
Take criticism well
Make more thoughtful business decisions
Although we want our children to do well in school, overall wellness should also include building up social emotional skills. These are skills that will help them in their future careers and relationships.
Sounds like a lot, but don’t worry, building up social emotional skills doesn’t require as much as you think! Here are some simple activities you can do at home to build up those skills:
Watch a movie together and talk about the characters. As a character is going through something in the movie, ask your child how they might feel if that happened to them or how they think the character is feeling. This is a great way to practice empathy and perspective taking. Pick any character in the movie or show (book too!) you are watching and see where the conversation takes you!
Skills targeted: Perspective-Taking, Empathy
Just start chatting and ask your child questions. For example, ask what their favorite foods are right now. What 3 items would you bring if you were stuck on a deserted island? What is your favorite animal? Of course as a parent you probably already know these things, but give your child time to talk and explain for themselves. You’ll help build their own self-awareness and give an opportunity to role-model turn taking and conversation skills. With less opportunity for kids to socialize these days, having a conversation where you give them your attention can have a huge impact on them. You may end up learning something new about your child you didn’t know!
Skills targeted: Self-Awareness, Conversation Skills
Practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime with mindfulness 5-4-3-2-1. This can be a fun thing you do on a walk or if your child is bored at the store. This is also a great way to calm down when you need some space! When your child is upset you can tell them that you notice they are upset and might need some space so they can calm down. Have them go to an area and find 5 things they can see, 4 things they can touch, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell and 1 emotion they feel (you can replace this with 1 thing they can taste if it applies). This is a fun way to avoid a power struggle and allows time to cool off so when they come back with the answers you can talk about what was upsetting them. It’s also just a great way to be mindful in the moment wherever you might be!
Skills targeted: Mindfulness, Coping Skills, Self-Regulation, Observation
Have fun acting out playing charades as a fun family activity. You can act out different things, trying to guess what someone is doing or act out different emotions and try to guess those! For example, you can have a character taking out the trash and grossed out by the smell. Help build their ability to label and identify emotions through games. It’s also a fun way to just get silly and be creative as a family with no prep or materials required!
Skills targeted: Emotional Identification, Observation
It’s not a chore, it’s a house contribution. Making small changes in your dialogue can make a huge impact down the line when teaching children things like responsibility and organization. You can call picking up your clothes a chore because of the mess it makes. Or, picking up your clothes is a house contribution, showing that you care about your things by not leaving them around on the floor. It also shows that you are a family, the clothes on the floor might not bother you, but how does it make your dad feel seeing them there? Encourage your child to think of others when talking about personal responsibility and helping out around the house.
Skills targeted: Responsibility, Organization
Role-model positive self-talk when you are stressed out. A good way to show your child how to cool down is to role model positive self-talk out loud when you are having a stressful moment or day. For example, if you are running late in the morning and are rushing around you might say out loud “I’m running behind this morning, but things will smooth out. First, I'll get breakfast done, then focus on my work email that needs to go out.” This article from Psychology Today highlights when you can manage your emotions with positive self-talk, you can impact how your child manages their emotions. It sounds silly, and might be awkward at first, but children learn their self-talk from what they see and hear you do!
Skills targeted: Self-Talk, Emotional Regulation, Coping Skills
Incorporating these activities into your routine is a great way to build up social emotional skills at home. For a more regular practice with these skills check out our SpringSpot Kids Camps where we integrate SEL in every class! We even offer at home activities, like Dinner Time Discussions so you can keep working on those social emotional skills throughout the day. Keep an eye out for more blogs on Social Emotional Learning, including how to avoid a power struggle!