Several research studies and reports show that those with high emotional intelligence have better attention skills and fewer learning problems, and are generally more successful in academic and workplace settings. With this research in mind, it is important to make sure our children are not only academically prepared for school but emotionally prepared as well.
Listed below are five key social-emotional skills to focus on, develop and nurture in your school-aged child. In addition to just listing the skill we have provided strategies and suggestions for you to try with your child. Remember, you are your child's best role model and when you model healthy social-emotional skills they will follow.
Self-Awareness- the ability to know yourself. To recognize your emotions, strengths and challenges, and how they affect your behavior.
Strategy: Identify in yourself (and your child) emotions they may be feeling at a specific time. For example, "I feel happy when ____, I feel sad when _____, I feel anger when _____."
Self-Management- the ability to know how to control your behaviors and moods, and setting and working toward goals.
Strategy: Display and model appropriate reactions for appropriate emotions. For example, "When I am happy I can _______. When I am upset/anger I can_______. When I am frustrated I can______." Remember, your kids are always watching and looking to you for guidance, how you emotionally react to challenges or frustrations your kids will too.
Social Awareness- the ability to understand and respect the perspectives of others, and to apply this knowledge to interactions with people from diverse backgrounds.
Strategy: Acknowledge when you are taking other people's feelings/perspectives into consideration. For example, "Grandma isn't feeling well today so we are going to make her a get well card to make her happy." Or when picking out a birthday present for a friend discuss what the friend likes versus what your child likes. Why is it important to pick something that they like? Also acknowledge that even if you maybe do not agree with others you can still be friends and get along.
Positive Relationship Skills- involves knowing how to establish and keep rewarding and positive relationships with friends, family and others from a wide range of backgrounds.
Strategy: Expose your children to a wide variety of people, places, and things. Allow them to experience new things. Encourage taking appropriate risks such as trying new foods or sports/activities. Discuss with your child and show them the importance of your own friendships and relationships to your life. Model positive relationships with friends and family and show them the benefits of creating those relationships.
Responsible Decision-Making- involves identifying the impact of your choices on yourself and others, and using empathy, relationship skills and self and social awareness to make decisions.
Strategy: Encourage your child to complete his/her homework prior to playing or watching TV, highlighting that putting first things, first, will make the act of watching TV or playing even better knowing you have completed what you need to do. Also allow your child to experience natural consequences when they do not make responsible choices. This will encourage better choices in the future. Have a discussion about why a negative consequence occurred and how to prevent it from happening again.
Developing and nurturing these and other social-emotional skills will provide your child with a foundation that is strong for learning, working with others, participating in a group, becoming an independent problem-solver, building meaningful peer relationships and friendships, and self-regulating emotions during a variety of situations. In addition to academics, these are the type of skills that colleges and employers are looking for in our 21st century students.
If you suspect that your child has difficulty with one or more of these skills contact The Speech Spot to discuss your concerns.