Would you define your child as a socially and emotionally healthy child? It’s important that our children learn to understand their feelings, and how to express them, and how to interact with the feelings of others. The National Association for the Education of Young Children defines socially and emotionally healthy children as demonstrating, and continuing to develop, several important behaviors and skills.
Socially and Emotionally Healthy kids:
- Typically display a positive mood
- Listen to and follow directions without reminding
- Form close relationships with their caregivers and with other kids
- Show an interest in the wellbeing of others
- Can recognize, identify, and to some degree manage their own emotions
- Can empathize with the emotions displayed by others
- Can express their wishes and preferences clearly
- Gain access to ongoing play and group activities
- Are able to play, negotiate, and compromise with others
If you can only recognize some of the nine factors listed here in your child, you may need to talk with teachers and/or with a counselor. It’s also a good idea to ask teachers for feedback regarding how your child behaves when you aren’t around. It’s not unusual for children to behave one way at home and another at school.
Prevent Child Abuse America recommends six courses of action to promote social and emotional learning in your children during the summer, when they are out of preschool. They are:
- Ask your child, “How are you feeling?” A simple check-in shows your children that their emotions matter and that you are concerned for their emotional wellbeing, as well as teach children to identify what their emotions are and how to appropriately express them.
- Set up a Chore Chart for each week of summer break. Age-appropriate chores are a great way to build self-esteem and make a child feel valued, and that he/she is a contributing member of the household–not a guest or a pampered pet. You can use stickers to acknowledge when work is done especially well. Setting kids up with some responsibility can teach children self-reliance and the importance of following through. And, yes—even 3/4/5 year olds can do chores. They usually love doing them too!
- Read a book with a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) component to your child. You can use stories that you read to help them understand SEL concepts in action. (Here’s a list from Differentiated Learning of 25 great books for SEL.) Make sure you discuss the motivations and actions of the characters. Some very useful SEL books include: Jubari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall; Be Kind, by Pat Zietlow Miller & Jen Hill; and We’re All Wonders, by R. J. Palacio.
- Teach your child cooperative learning games. Cooperative games where everyone seeks to win together help everyone in the game build their SEL, and particularly helps cultivate understanding and patience. (If you can find games that your child can in turn teach their siblings or friends to play, that’s even better– it prepares them to spread these ideas by modeling them!) For some recommended SEL games, see this list from Proud to be Primary.
- Start a summer journal for your child. Small children can’t write a tome of their feelings, obviously, so as a bedtime event, write down the date on the page and then have them tell you some of the feelings they encountered today, and how they dealt with those feelings.
- Set a summer goal for your child. Agree on an age-appropriate summer goal with your child and help them track their progress (perhaps as part of their summer journal). For example, your child may set a goal of being able to recognize the 26 letters in the alphabet and know most of their sounds by the end of the summer, or be able to consistently count to twenty correctly.
If you’d like to discuss a place at Creekside Kids for your kids, we’d like to invite you to click this embedded link to schedule an appointment. Let’s get to know each other! Like us on Facebook to follow our stories for news and updates. We’re located at 1201 W Cheyenne Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, and we can be reached at (719) 635-9111. Our regular hours of operation are 6:30 am until 5:45 pm, Monday through Friday; however, we have a shortened schedule during COVID of 7:00 am to 5:30 pm.