Social and emotional development for children

The term ‘Social and Emotional Development’ has become a hot parenting topic over the last few years… and quite rightly so! Since the onset of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, we have become more attuned to the emotional well-being of not only ourselves but also, and more importantly so, the emotional well-being of our children. If there is one thing that we can thank the pandemic for, it is being more aware of the need to provide our children, and ourselves, with an increased focus on social and emotional development, self-care, listening with empathy, being empathetic to those around us and having perspective.

What is social and emotional development?

Social and emotional development is a broad umbrella term that encompasses many facets of our general well-being and development areas such as:

  • peer pressure, 
  • how children form friendships and relationships and how they maintain them, 
  • how we interact with one another, 
  • how we express and show emotions.

Children growing up today are bombarded with so many messages, some of them conflicting, on how one should behave, speak or dress. Children are exposed to so much information that it is often difficult for them to manage the big emotions and behaviours that accompany society's expectations.

Social and emotional learning at home

Social and emotional development starts in the home, where a child’s first and most important role models, their parents, are modelling the behaviours that they want to see in their children. In the home environment, parents should focus on teaching their children sharing, caring, affection and nurture. Children should be encouraged to say how they feel, be respectful, listen for understanding and empathy, caring not only for themselves but for the world around them. 

Young children look to their family members as role models. How we speak, how we interact, how we support and listen to our children has an incredible impact on their development, particularly in the key stages of early childhood development (ECD). Underpinning this is helping our children to eventually become independent, solution-driven, thinking adolescents and adults. 

Social and emotional development is providing children with a safe, non-confrontational space to express their emotions and unpack the overwhelming feelings they are trying to process. To gently guide and provide opportunities for them to develop positive behaviour and a positive image of themselves so that they grow into well-adjusted, socially conscious human beings.

EQ vs. IQ

You may have heard the saying, ‘EQ is equally as important as IQ’, if not more so. An unhappy child will struggle to learn. So it is equally as important to attend to the emotional well-being of a learner, as to their academic needs. Social-emotional learning should be integrated into every subject area as it is an integral part of us as human beings – developing self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills that are not only important for learning but also vital to succeed as adults in a workplace environment. 

Online social emotional learning course

CambriLearn offers an in-depth social emotional learning course to help children navigate these key developmental areas. The course is completed online through interactive lessons and group projects to help learners discover constructive ways to process their emotions and interact with others in a respectful way. 

In this course, students learn to:

  • Recognise and practice character strengths, like curiosity, persistence, and collaboration.
  • Understand and manage their emotions, like fear and anger.
  • Work in a team, listen to and appreciate each other.
  • Understand the consequences of their actions to others. 

Students who have completed the social emotional learning course with CambriLearn have shown improved: 

  • self-esteem and self-awareness
  • attitude and relationships
  • ability to cope with social and peer pressures
  • learning outcomes

16 Habits of Mind

The 16 Habits of Mind, originally developed by Art Costa and Bena Kallick, are “thinking dispositions that are committed to growing individuals who are more thoughtful, responsive, and innovative”. These 16 habits encourage students (and adults!) to have a positive growth mindset; to be persistent when faced with challenges; to respond with wonderment and awe to the world around them. When this framework is applied consistently and children are provided with opportunities to link the 16 habits to their everyday life, the habits will soon become second nature. These 16 habits or thinking dispositions essentially, lay the foundation for all social, emotional and cognitive behaviour.

Developing social-emotional skills is a crucial task that every person will face at some point in their life. By focusing on these skills as early as possible and systematically continuing learning through the school years, we provide our children with a critical toolset to navigate life successfully, happily, and healthily.

Note: This article first appeared on Parenting Hub in April 2023 and was written by CambriLearn

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