Social-emotional learning is the practice of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship building and responsible decision-making. When we practice and build these skills, we are better equipped to navigate stressors, anxiety and challenges. Parents need to build their own social and emotional skills so that they can share them with their kids.
6 Steps for Parents
Take care of yourself even when it feels like the last thing you can do right now.
Children are sensitive to the stresses of their caretakers. Children sense when we are worried or anxious. Build into your day a time for your own personal down time so you can understand what your needs might be.
If you find yourself experiencing stress and anxiety, try mindful breathing. This teaches us be present and focused and helps alleviate the worry and confusion. Breathing should be slow (about 5 breathes total). Start by breathing in through your nose while your belly rises and out through your mouth as your belly relaxes. When we take care of ourselves first, we are able to show up for our children.
Routines ground us and provide a sense of safety and security.
Design a daily routine for you and your child and stick to it.
Be present by being intentional when you are connecting with your child.
Set daily times for playing together, reading books, or just being together.
Kindness towards others helps us build an appreciation for our own lives.
It helps improve our physical and emotional mental health. Acts of service or helping others in
need provides this.
Practice attentive listening by modeling eye contact and body posture.
Ask questions in response to what you have heard. Validate your child’s feelings, fears and
concerns. For example: be mindful not to diminish your child’s feelings by saying, “Oh, don’t be scared.” Our job is to help our child accept and understand their feelings, develop self-compassionate and empathize with others.
Help your child identify, express and manage their emotions.
This helps children understand what they are feeling. Children need daily opportunities to practice this. For example, you can say, “I see your fists are clenched and you seem upset. Can you tell me what’s going on? What might help you calm down right now?”
Linda Glaser is the Director of Social & Emotional Education for the Community Circle LA Program and a member of the EQuip Our Kids! Speaker Bureau.