What are social-emotional skills?
Social-emotional skills allow kids and adults alike to understand and recognize our thoughts and feelings in order to connect with others. They help us communicate and express ourselves in the appropriate way in different environments and with different people. For example, a child may see her friend is upset and ask if he is okay.
Kids start learning these skills from the time they’re born! Babies learn early social-emotional skills by caregivers consistently meeting their needs, providing a safe and healthy home, and modeling emotions through communication and play interactions. It’s important for parents to nurture social-emotional skills so kids develop healthy relationships with friends and family members.
How do social-emotional skills impact daily life?
Kids with healthy social-emotional skills are more likely succeed in school, work, and life. Social-emotional skills help kids:
- Make friends and maintain friendships
- Gain confidence
- Resolve conflicts
- Manage stress and anxiety
- Learn social norms
- Make appropriate decisions
- Resist negative social pressure
- Learn strengths and weaknesses
- Gain awareness of what others are feeling
Social-emotional growth takes time and even continues throughout adulthood. Early experiences with family, caregivers, and peers greatly impact this type of development.
How can I encourage my child’s social-emotional development?
There are endless ways to help your child understand their thoughts and feelings. The best part? You can easily incorporate these tips into your family’s daily life.
Model the emotions and behaviors you want your child to show. You are your child’s first teacher and they look up to you as a role model.
Be responsive to your child’s emotions and behaviors. Respond quickly to basic needs to develop trust, e.g. feeding, playing, soothing, and comforting them.
To help your child work through negative emotions, ask them simple questions, offering choices and avoiding power struggles, e.g. “Would you like to brush your teeth or take a bath first?”
Ask open-ended questions, such as “What would you do?” to help develop problem-solving skills.
Point out and talk about your child’s emotions and how to cope.
Use stories to talk about different social situations and how each person might be feeling.
Encourage kids to try new things and learn how much they can do if they simply try.
Play games to teach kids how to take turns, win and lose, share, and negotiate.
When using screens (not recommended before 18 months), sit with your child and make it a social activity, e.g. asking them questions or playing turn-taking games.
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