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Teaching Kids Social-Emotional Skills is a Must!


Does your child have a hard time making friends? Are you getting constant calls about your child’s behavior in school or daycare? Does your child have a hard time expressing themselves? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions then chances are your child is lacking in one or more areas of social-emotional skills.

Kids today are less social than ever before. This may sound strange but it is very true. Social media and socializing are two very different things. This article will break down what Social Emotional Skills are and why we have to teach it to our kids more than ever before!

This blog is an introduction to the Social Emotional Series SEL. Where I will break down the 5 components of SEL and how to teach our kids each of them.

What are Social Emotional Skills?

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According to the article Social-Emotional Development Domain, “Social-emotional development includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others (Cohen and others 2005).”

Social-Emotional Skills can be broken into 5 components: Self Management, Self Awareness, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making.

Self Management: The ability to manage your emotions and behavior in various situations.

Self Awareness: The ability to recognize your emotions, strengths, weakness and personal challenges.

Social Awareness: the ability to understand others and to show empathy towards different people.

Relationship Skills: the ability to maintain healthy relationships with others and resolve conflict in a productive manner

Responsible Decision Making: Making ethical and responsible choices personally and socially.

Why is Social Emotional Learning Important?

Based off the definition above, it is clear to see the benefits of social emotional learning (SEL). When children lack SE skills they are less likely to be able to manage their emotions and are unable to establish and maintain healthy relationships with others.

Children who lack the proper social skills are more likely to struggle in school and tend to have difficulties managing behavior.

Where do we start?

After reading the 5 definitions of the five components of SEL above, you probably identified the area that your child is lacking in. This is the first step that we take!

Although all 5 components are important and correlate with one another, being able to focus on the skill that your child needs the most will benefit them.

Sometimes we get the impression that children are supposed to automatically know how to behave. We often “expect” kids to do the right thing.

Children are not simply born with the ability to manage themselves or to pick up on the social cues of others.

Children need to be explicitly taught these things! We have to stop assuming that they know what to do.

Think of it this way, we would never give our kids access to the washing machine without first teaching them how to use it first!

So we have to stop assuming that our kids know how to form healthy friendships. We have to stop thinking that our kids just know how to express themselves effectively.

What we need to teach them?

We need to teach our children skills in each of the 5 building blocks of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).

Once they begin to master these skills then they can start becoming more aware of their needs and the needs of others. These skills will allow them to become more successful in the classroom environment and in life in general.

In the next couple of blogs I will break down each component of Social Emotional Skills.

I will explain what each is, why it’s important in relation to life and school, and how we as parents can teach our kids these skills at home that will benefit them in school.

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