According to CASEL, social-emotional learning can be defined as: “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
That is a long definition! It is too powerful and important to skip over so let’s gradually unpack it.
If your children could understand their emotions - that their thoughts, emotions, and behavioural actions are linked - then, if needed, they could realign their thoughts, which would impact their emotions and ultimately their actions. Let me give you an example.
One morning, as I am driving to work, my thoughts meandered over to a situation that had happened in my past. It was a situation where I had felt that I had been wronged. At first, my thought was only fleeting, but before it could be pushed back into my ‘Done’ box, (a term, which a good friend introduced to me) I thought about it again. In fact, the more I drove, the more I thought. The more I thought, the more sad I became. Well, this little meandering of thought back to an old situation had definitely built up speed! In fact, by the time I had arrived at work, I wanted to turn around and go back home….to cry! I just felt too sad and certainly did not want my sadness to affect anyone else. You see, my thought evolved in to the emotion of sadness, which almost impacted my action. Yes…the key word is ‘almost’. You see, fortunately I recognized what was happening, made a change in my thinking/emotion and in to work I went! In this scenario, my SEL saved me from a long, sad, and most likely very unproductive day!
Perhaps you have never had anything happen to you and never been hurt and/or sad, but my guess is that my personal story is relatable. Our thoughts and emotions can impact whether we get together with friends, whether we apply for the new job, whether we yell at the cat, whether we eat chocolate or an apple, etc… It is our ability to understand and manage our emotions that helps us on our life journey. Oh yes, I almost forgot that I started this blog referring to our children…
Just imagine…. if they could learn this at a young age!!! (It sure would have saved me from some tumultuous emotional storms!)
This is just one aspect of social emotional learning (SEL) though. There are so many other aspects that show us why SEL is so incredibly important!