11 November 2020
Children develop the basics of socio-emotional learning in their earliest years. How the adults around them act among themselves and interact with them strongly influences their sense of trust, self-esteem, confidence, friendliness, persistence, patience, and ability to recognize and manage their emotions. Strategies that have a positive influence on socio-emotional learning include the following:
Maintain a regular schedule: When children can predict what will happen next, they can better control themselves. Children with regular sleeping, eating, and transition schedules learn better and have a stronger sense of emotional control.
Narrate your child’s day: Children with strong verbal skills are better prepared to ask for what they need and manage their daily challenges. Even before your child can speak, you can help your child by narrating everything you experience together. Your stories help your child build a vocabulary and structure for daily storytelling. When you include “emotion talk” (“I was happy when… I saw you were surprised when…”), you also enable your child to recognize and respond to their emotions.
Get down to your child’s eye level to talk: Children listen and respond better when they can look directly into your eyes. Calling out across a room rarely works.
Empower your child with appropriate choices: Children need adults to make certain choices for them to keep them safe and healthy and establish appropriate limits. There are choices children can make (“Would you like to read Brown Bear or The Very Hungry Caterpillar?”) but asking children to make adult decisions or giving into their negotiations can overwhelm them. Limits let them know they are safe.
Model appropriate behaviors: Children learn just as much from what they observe as from what you tell them. Children use appropriate language and learn to control their emotions better when others around them do so too.
Praise your child with specific language: Specific praise (“You zipped your coat all by yourself!” “You cleaned up all of your blocks!”) works better than generalized praise (“Good job!”) as it lets your child know you are paying attention.
For additional strategies, please explore the website for the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning at: http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/