10 ways to help your kids build social and emotional skills
Help your kids reach their full potential with these easy tips to integrate social and emotional learning activities into your daily routines at home.
When it comes to kids’ learning, it goes beyond academics. Social and emotional skills—like empathy, resilience, and problem solving—are crucial to kids’ well-being and helping them reach their full potential. And there’s no better place to start than at home! Here are 10 ways you can reinforce your kids’ skill development at home and integrate it into your everyday routines.
[Read more about social and emotional learning on The Renewal Project.]
1. Lead by example
Help your kids build empathy by letting them catch you doing good. If you’re going to the grocery store to pick up essentials, ask a neighbour if they need anything. If you’re getting something delivered to your front door, write a note of thanks to the delivery driver and encourage your kids to do the same. Kids notice these small moments and internalize them.
2. Clean house for a cause
Take time to have a family discussion about an issue in your community like homelessness or poverty. A couple of starter questions: “Why might someone not have a job or food?” “What might it feel like to live on the streets?” Then take action to make a difference: collect items your family no longer uses or ask the kids to find clothes and toys they’ve outgrown. Donate them to a local women’s shelter or another service organization (or put them aside to donate when you are able to).
3. Build goal-setting skills by including your child in the planning process
Goal-setting is a key part of social and emotional learning. If your child is working on schoolwork or a project at home, help them write a list of tasks and set goals together that they can work toward each day. Follow the list together and check tasks off as you go.
4. Make thanks a habit
Invite every person around the dinner table to express gratitude for something that happened that day. You can also help your children start a gratitude journal. Every day, get them to write down three things that make them happy.
5. Help your kids work through problems
The next time your child comes to you about an issue, like a conflict with a friend or sibling, discuss the situation to help them discover a new perspective and consider the feelings of others. Ask questions like, “Why do you think they were upset with you?” or “What would you do differently next time?”
6. Champion a pet project
Caring for an animal is a natural way to nurture compassion. If you’re not ready for a furry friend of your own, offer to walk a dog for an elderly neighbour who may not be able to leave their home. Taking care of a dog is proven to nurture empathy and responsibility, and boost kids’ self-esteem.
7. Share responsibility as a family
Members of efficient teams report that they can depend on each other. Everyone has a role to play. At home, put your child in charge of watering the plants, for example. Tap older kids to care for family pets. Show them that small actions every day contribute to the overall vitality of the family. They will be more likely to take those skills out into the world and give back to others later in life.
8. Add gadget-free time to your schedule
Designate a specific time each day for everyone to get offline and communicate with one another. Encourage your kids to talk, or take the lead by sharing stories from your day. Make it fun: tell jokes or start a game where everyone makes up a story by saying one word each.
9. Add self- and social-awareness to story time
Use the characters in books as a jumping-off point to help your children articulate their own emotions and to encourage them to think about the feelings of others. Ask, “How were the characters feeling when that happened?” “How would that make you feel if that happened to you?”
10. Use everyday moments as learning opportunities
Talk through everyday situations with your child to help them build skills like adaptability and problem solving, and to help them deal with frustration. For example, if you’re making breakfast together and run out of pancake mix but have lots of bread, ask them what you might make instead. Or if they run out of materials when they’re working on a school project, have them think of a creative solution to finish their assignment.
The Allstate Foundation and WE are committed to giving teachers and families across America free resources to engage youth in service-learning and teach them the social and emotional skills they need to succeed in the future. To learn more, visit WE.org/lifeskills.
This story, 10 ways to help your kids using social and emotional learning activities, was originally published on WE.org. Visit WE Stories for more inspirational stories of impact.