Why it pays to teach social and emotional skills to our kids

Michael E. Bernard, Ph.D.
Professor, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Emeritus Professor, California State University, Long Beach
Founder, You Can Do It! Education

As parents, we really want our kids to get the most out of learning and life in general. Learning can be so much fun, especially when kids are encouraged and challenged, both at home and at school. But even the brightest kids can fall behind in their learning if they can’t get along with others, manage their time, make decisions or work as a team. Academic achievement is all well and good, but if our kids can’t relate or haven’t learnt how to manage and express their feelings, learning can become anything but fun…

What are social emotional skills?Emotional skills are all about learning how to manage and express our feelings appropriately. Social skills are about relating to other people. Social and emotional skills are critical to building and maintaining self-esteem and confidence. Social emotional learning (SEL) underpins positive mental health, which is as important as physical health for kids when it comes to coping in the classroom and the school yard. Kids with good social and emotional skills are better placed to resist peer pressure and bullying.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) identifies social emotional learning as falling into five broad headings: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship skills.

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