Today’s youth are experiencing higher stress levels and increased isolation brought on by the COVID crisis, including challenges with distance learning. We want our kids to be resilient, but how do we, as parents and caregivers, help them build this important skill?
First of all, “social emotional learning” (or SEL, for short), is a life-long process. SEL skills include things like: developing a healthy identity, establishing and maintaining supportive relationships, managing emotions, feeling and showing empathy for others, and making responsible decisions. And if that weren’t important enough, SEL skills also empower us to be more resilient in the face of adversity, stress, and change—like an ongoing pandemic.
As we try to navigate the demands of work, parenting, and online distance learning options, shoring up our kids’ social and emotional health is critically important. Research shows that bolstering kids’ SEL skills decreases both depression and anxiety. And building resiliency means that children can cope better with everyday limits, social dramas, and the ongoing challenges of life during COVID.
If teachers promote SEL at school, research shows that learning environments become more positive as well, decreasing incidents of bullying and leading to higher academic achievement. For all these reasons, it is crucial that parents advocate for schools to invest time and resources into SEL. Ask your school how they are addressing these national recommendations put forward by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) in their Roadmap for Reopening Schools.
One of the best ways we can support our kids is to model these SEL skills ourselves. Make sure you find time to take care of your own emotional and social needs, so you can be present and available to your kids. Want some practical tips and strategies? 10 Ways Parents Can Bring Social-Emotional Learning Home is a great place to start.
And if you’re struggling with the challenge of helping your child (and yourself) manage this new emotional and academic landscape, our experts at the Center for Children & Youth are ready to support you with professional parent consultations, clinical services, and ongoing workshops and support groups. You can connect with us on our website: centerforchildrenandyouth.org, or call 1-888-927-0839. We’re here for you.
Parents and schools each have an important role to play to ensure that children develop strong relationships and skills to protect them in uncertain times. With caring adults at their side, a generation of young people can emerge from this crisis with positive health and developmental outcomes.