Today marks the third day of #RAKWeek2018! Parents can weeks like these as opportunities to talk to children about the importance of qualities like respect and kindness, helping to grow children’s social and emotional capabilities.
The Importance of Social and Emotional Learning
Social and emotional learning (SEL) means actively teaching children (and adults!) to understand their feelings and behaviors and knowing the proper and healthy way to respond and react to these new emotions. As children grow and experience new situations and new emotions, they need adults to teach them what those emotions mean and how to properly respond. Research shows that children who are taught to recognize and understand not only their own emotions but the emotions that others are having are more likely to exhibit empathy and treat others with respect. While social and emotional learning is a key component of school curricula, parents can also make use of SEL ideas and lessons at home.
A key part of SEL is understanding the way that our actions affect others and having empathy. Parents can use national holidays like Valentine’s Day or other opportunities to teach children about concepts like respect and kindness. Having conversations with children about these topics is a good way for parents to reinforce lessons that children are likely learning in school.
Teaching SEL Concepts to Young Children
For children in elementary school, try using a “what-if” that children would recognize in order to jumpstart the conversation. For example:
- John is very excited about his new shoes, but when he gets to school other kids tell him that his shoes are ugly. How do you think John feels? What would you do if you were there when John was being made fun of?
- Rose wants to play jump rope with other girls on the playground but is too afraid to ask. What would you do if you saw Rose standing there quietly? How could you show kindness in this situation?
Parents can also use examples to show children what kindness looks like. Pointing out the neighbor helping to shovel others’ driveways, the crossing guard helping get kids to school safely, or another such adult in the community can help teach children how you as their parent want them to act and treat others. For more information on how parents can reinforce SEL concepts, visit CASEL.
Talking Respect, Kindness and Bullying for Older Children
With middle school and high school aged children, parents can have more direct conversations about topics like bullying and how to respond when witnessing a bullying event. According to research, when peers intervene in a bullying situation, the bullying stops nearly 60% of the time. If comfortable, talk to your children about how to appropriately respond in such a situation, by:
- Confronting the instigator in action,
- Walking away from the incident and encouraging others to walk away in order to eliminate the instigator’s audience,
- Reaching out to the bullying target in private, or
- Getting help from a trusted adult.
By taking part in one of these actions and being an “upstander” instead of a bystander, children can learn firsthand the benefits of showing kindness and respect to another while taking real action during #RAKweek2018. For more information or resources on teaching children to become upstanders, check out Bystander Revolution.
How do you promote SEL competencies in children? Let us know by tweeting us @PCAAmerica or by leaving a comment on our Facebook page!