With the big buzz of back to school, I want to talk about ideas to continue building your child's Social Emotional Learning skills (SEL) at home. SELs are getting a lot of attention in the education field. Often, parents don't know what they can do to continuously build their child's skills to better develop their social and emotional intelligence. Here are some ideas and games to help early elementary kids develop their SEL skills at home:
Teach your child about the different emotions: Explain the difference between frustrated, mad, sad, jealous, happy, excited, and tired. By exploring more emotions, children can explore how the emotions make them feel and behave. Awareness is the first step to learning to better manage behaviors. I would recommend using figurines or cue cards to help with identifying emotions. I like these emotion cards or you can always use emojis on your phone. There are also a few apps that you can additionally purchase. Find what works for you and is easily accessible. So, when you are waiting in line, at the doctor's office, or even before bed, pull out the emojis or cards and use them to talk about what each emotion means to your child. I do a silly activity with the students we work with and it might be a good one to use at home. Get your acting hat on and play "Show Me That Emotion"! Ask your child to show or act out what sad, mad, and happy look like. If your children are older, use more advanced emotions like shame or envy and have them use their facial expressions, as well as body language to express them. It's a great game that teaches your child how to identify different emotions, as well as allows you to see how your child interprets and express them.
Use deep breathing at home: When you get upset, start modeling deep breathing to calm you down. It truly works and it's a great coping skill to teach your child. Here is what I do: when my daughter has a tantrum, I get down on her level and I have her try to make eye contact with me. Then, I start taking really exaggerated deep breaths so she sees and focuses on what I am doing. I even exhale my deep breaths towards her, so that she can also feel the strength of which I am exhaling them. Overtime, practicing that strategy will work and your child will start to mimic you. This technique will get them to take a moment to refocus and the added oxygen from the deep breaths will calm them down. Deep breathing is so underutilized, but it can really help with controlling anger and impulses.
Have daily talk times: Find a moment of time in the day: in the morning before school, in the evening after dinner, or right before bed to have one on one time with your child. Be totally disconnected, turn off that TV and put down the phone. Just be in the moment with your child. Use that time to find out about their likes and dislikes, friends, and about their day at school. Spend time learning about their world, but don't forget to share what you love about them. For my daughter, every morning she crawls into my bed or we find a special place to talk about our day. So we cuddle, and she tells me about monsters and dragons. I talk about how I think she is really clever, smart, funny, and kind. I tie in examples of those strengths, so she can visualize when she has displayed them. It is about giving them examples, so that children can look back into their memory bank and see that they truly have these qualities. Stay in the moment and be consistent in having talk times during the day. Your child will thrive emotionally from these little talks.
These are just some suggestions to try at home to help build your child's social emotional learning skills. We often get so busy that we forget about continually developing these essential skills. It is about taking the time to do these little things that can lead to a big difference for the entire family.
Until Next Time...
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Filed under: Bullying Prevention Month