Parents have long known that social-emotional learning (SEL), the process through which we acquire and apply the ability to show empathy for others, manage emotions and make responsible and caring decisions, is crucial to their children’s well-being and development.
With children spending more time at home due to COVID-19, it is more important than ever to help kids develop and practice SEL in authentic ways, particularly given the lack of opportunities for in-person communication with their friends.
Read below for a few tips and activities that you can use to help your child cultivate their emotional intelligence today!
Take Time for Yourself
To help kids grow and practice social and emotional skills, you must take care of yourself first. While parents sometimes hide their feelings and stress from their children to prevent them from worrying, research has shown that kids can tell when their parents are suppressing how they’re really feeling. Consider taking a few minutes each day to improve your own emotional well-being. Anything from exercise to journaling and meditation can help place you in a more positive mindset that in turn will help your child’s emotional state.
In The Invention Superpower of Empathy, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activity from the National Inventors Hall of Fame®, children explore how empathy can be used to help others through the act of invention. Participants are invited to brainstorm ways to help others, sketch ideas for a solution to a challenge or need that other people have, and then use recyclables, craft materials or household items to construct a prototype.
Sometimes it can be difficult for younger children to verbally express how they are feeling. If your loved one is in the same boat, ask them to draw a face that describes their emotions or find an emoji that matches their mood. Feel free to have fun with this activity and put your own spin on it. Maybe your child feels most comfortable playing a song from one of their favorite artists that best represents their mood? What is most important is that parents give both space and permission for these types of expressions to occur.
Demonstrate Small Acts of Kindness
Helping others is a foundational social-emotional skill. It not only helps make the world a better place but it can also bring us joy and happiness. Challenge your child (and yourself) to do one small act of kindness each day. These can be as simple as checking in on a friend or shoveling a neighbor’s walkway. The important thing is that this exercise puts others first and will help children develop a habit of helping others.
Check Out Our Blog
Stay tuned to our blog for more ideas about how to embrace SEL and STEM learning at home!