How to support social-emotional learning in youth

Learn how you can support children's social-emotional development!

Social-emotional learning is a big topic in schools and afterschool programs. As a parent, caregiver or someone who works with youth, you may hear this term. This blog gives a brief overview of what social-emotional learning is, why it is important to promote these skills and what you can do at home to reinforce these skills in youth.

What is Social-Emotional Learning?

Social-emotional learning is a broad term used to talk about social and emotional skills. These skills can include understanding their emotions, how to interact with others in a positive way, how to effectively solve problems or conflicts and communication. Many schools are implementing programs known as social-emotional learning programs to help youth develop and practice these skills.

Why is it important to promote these skills?

Research has shown that having these skills can promote other positive behaviors and outcomes, such as better academics. Social-emotional skills are also related to a reduction in depression, anxiety, substance use and other behavioral challenges. These skills are also often among the top skills that employers want in employees— such as teamwork, confidence, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Developing social-emotional skills can have a positive influence in multiple areas of children’s lives.

What are some ways parents can promote these skills at home?

  1. Many schools have programs where they are teaching these skills to youth. Talk to your child’s teachers to find out how the school is promoting these skills and what you can do to help reinforce what your child is learning at school.
  2. You can help your child understand their emotions. With younger children, you can read books with them and talk about the emotions of characters in the book to help them think about how someone else might be feeling. With older children you can talk about a situation from a TV show and talk about different characters and what emotions they may be feeling.
  3. Acknowledge your child’s emotions. It’s important for your child to know that everyone has emotions and may have different emotions from them. Let them know that all feelings are okay.

What are some resources where I can find more?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (or CASEL) has great resources on teaching these skills, and they have some resources for parents.

They’ve also created a video for parents to help them understand more about these skills, how they are being taught in schools and what parents can do at home to help reinforce what is being learned.

Edutopia also has some great videos and articles about a variety of different skills if you are interested in working on specific skills with your child, such as empathy, gratitude or focus.

Finally, the Parent Toolkit also has an interactive site that includes resources for promoting these skills; the website includes some advice, benchmarks for knowing what skills children are developing at certain ages and conversation starters for talking about different social-emotional topics with your child.

Check out this video from WMUR’s “Positive Parenting” segment on this topic!

Author(s)

Kendra Lewis
Youth & Family Resiliency State Specialist
Assoc State Spec Professor
Phone: (603) 862-2495
Office: Cooperative Extension, Pettee Hall Rm GO5C, Durham, NH 03824