How Parents Can Bring Social-Emotional Learning Into the Home

Since learning often starts at home, parents can play a key role in fostering their child’s social-emotional learning (SEL).

The relationship between child and parent or guardian is essential for building the foundation for future social-emotional health. When parents work to model healthy social-emotional skills, they can promote these key skills and build the trusting and safe relationship necessary with their child that will allow them to learn and explore.

The following ideas are just a few of the great ways parents can bring social-emotional learning into the home:

  • Create a trusting, safe connection with your child. Spend time with them and talk about anything that comes to their mind. Offering a safe space or time for children to talk to you assures them that you care.
  • Establish routines. Routines are another key piece of creating a safe and open space for your child. The sense of stability that routines create – from bedtimes to mealtimes – can reduce your child’s anxiety and assist in SEL.
  • Model the types of behavior you want your child to emulate. While you work to build your child’s confidence, ensure that they don’t witness you putting yourself down.
  • Offer praise and support for positive behaviors. Preschoolers who demonstrate cooperation, sharing and follow the rules can benefit from positive reinforcement to build their confidence.
  • If your child is struggling with a particular task or situation, offer encouragement and help them believe in themselves. Positive encouragement from a parent can go a long way in building your child’s self-esteem and sense of optimism.
  • Encourage the expression of emotions. Rather than dismiss your child’s feelings, ask them to explain them. This may mean asking them, “What’s wrong?” rather than telling them to “Stop crying.” You can help a child manage their emotions by asking them to express what causes them and then offer a different solution to responding to those feelings.
  • Ask children to reflect. If you notice them being empathetic towards another child who is upset, ask your child to talk about what they were feeling and why they behaved in the way that they did. Be sure to encourage this type of behavior by saying, “I liked how you were kind to Billy when he was feeling sad.”
  • Teach ways to manage emotions. Whether you practice a calming breathing exercise or another mindfulness activity together, showing your child how to cope with their feelings promotes healthy expressions of emotions.

When parents and child care centers work together, they can help develop children’s social-emotional skills at home and at preschool. Parents should talk to their preschool about how children’s SEL needs being integrated into their daily routines and how they can get involved to help them learn important emotional lessons and navigate their environment more effectively.

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