If we look back on our childhoods, it is quite easy to see where certainly habits and personality traits came from. For me, almost all of my traits and beliefs can be traced back to my childhood. Either they are ones that I learned and have held up since I was in school, or they are ones that I developed as an adult to replace those that weren’t correct. In either case, I can track them back to my youth, and the majority of them can be traced back to an interaction – good or bad – from my parents.
Do you have a similar experience? If so, then its clear how major an impact parents have on their child’s social-emotional development.
It is well-known that social-emotional development plays a big role in a child’s academic and personal life. Children who have strong social-emotional skills are better able to calm bad emotions, solve problems, and communicate with others. They are also more likely to succeed in school, have better relationships with friends and adults, and experience fewer behavioral problems.
A surprise to no one – the COVID-19 pandemic had a staggering impact on school-age children when it came to their social-emotional development due to being at-home for so long. The good news is that parents can play a vital role in supporting their child’s continued growth in this area. Here are some of the ways parents can help their child develop strong social-emotional skills.
Make Sure They Feel Safe and Positive At-Home
One of the most important things parents can do to support their child’s social-emotional development is to create a home that is both nurtures and structures things positively. This involves providing consistent love and support, but still helping them understand that there are consequences for their actions. This will help them learn that the importance of following rules, but in a manner that maintains a good relationship between you and your kiddos.
Be a Good Example
Children learn the most, especially during their school-age years, by watching their parents. Parents must show their child how to manage their own emotions and interact with others in a healthy and respectful way. This can involve taking the time to listen and empathize with their child’s feelings, and also modeling positive communication and conflict resolution skills. Although it may sometimes be easier, it has been proven time after time that a “do as I say, not as I do” methodology doesn’t lead to success.
Get / Stay Involved
The more of your child’s life you show interest in, the happier they will feel. This can involve volunteering at school events, participating in afterschool activities alongside them, or simply learning more about their favorite video game or TV show. By staying engaged in their child’s interests in life, parents can gain a better understanding of their kiddo’s strengths, challenges, and social relationships.
Make sure they can make friends outside of school
Parents can support their child’s development by making sure they have chances to engage in social activities outside of school. Scheduling playdates, participating in community events, and having your child join activities such as martial arts or other sports are all great ways of providing this for them. By creating opportunities for your child to interact with others in a positive and supportive environment, you can help your child develop critical social skills and build meaningful relationships.
Directly Work With Them
In addition to the above strategies, there are also specific social-emotional skills that you can focus on helping your kiddo develop.
Controlling Big Emotions: Emotional regulation refers to a child’s ability to manage their own emotions in a healthy and productive way. Parents can support their child’s emotional regulation by teaching them ways to cope with stress and anxiety, such as deep breathing exercises or mindfulness practices.
Being Empathetic: Empathy refers to a child’s ability to understand and relate to the emotions of others. Parents can support their child’s empathy by modeling empathy themselves, encouraging their child to see things from other people’s perspectives, and praising them when they are empathetic to others.
How To Communicate: Communication skills are critical for building positive relationships with others. Parents can help their child’s communication by example (just like with empathy), teaching their child how to actively listen, and encouraging them to express their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly.
Solving Problems: Problem-solving skills are essential for navigating all challenges, including social and emotional ones. Parents can support their child’s problem-solving skills by teaching them how to identify and solve problems, encouraging them to brainstorm solutions to problems they encounter, and praising them when they successfully solve a problem on their own.
Strengthening Their Future
Social-emotional development is a critical aspect of a child’s growth, particularly during the school years. As a parent, you have a significant role in supporting this growth, regardless of what other factors might be at play. By creating a positive and nurturing home environment, modeling positive social-emotional behavior, staying involved in your child’s school and extracurricular activities, and providing opportunities for social interaction outside of school, you can help your child develop the critical skills and positive relationships needed to thrive academically and personally.
Also, remember that every child is unique and may develop social-emotional skills at their own pace. Be patient and supportive, and recognize that mistakes and setbacks are a natural part of the learning process. By choosing to be supportive rather than judgmental, you are setting them up for long-term success and happiness. If you can implement some (or all) of these points, then you will be able to have an even greater positive impact on their lives now; as well as their happiness and success as adults.