Social-emotional skills educators and parents can teach children
Children with learning disabilities and ADHD are often socially isolated, as they struggle with specific social-emotional skills and behavioural skills that help them fit in society. Difficulty with social-emotional skills can prevent children from forming friendships and meaningful relationships, both within and outside the family. Developing good social-emotional skills is not an overnight task. It is an ever-evolving process. Therefore, it is imperative that parents/educators teach children, at home and at school, certain social-emotional skills to make them better equipped to manage daily challenges, make informed decisions, and build positive relationships.
Some social-emotional skills that can be taught to children should contain the following elements:
Social-emotional skills – Positive social interaction
- Introducing oneself
- Appropriate conversations with friends and adults
- Sharing material/toys/food
- Asking for permission or consent before using someone else’s belongings
- Not commenting (negatively/inappropriately) on someone’s physical features or personal belongings
- Confidentiality and secrets- knowing what to ask and what not to ask; knowing what to keep to oneself
Social-emotional skills – Emotional understanding and regulation
- Recognising and naming emotions
- Expressing one’s feelings, talking about how you feel and why so
- Knowing how to regulate/manage one’s emotions
- Utilising calming and mindfulness techniques
- Using words instead of actions to express one’s feelings, for example, instead of throwing an object saying ‘I’m angry and need some time to cool down.’
Social-emotional skills – Resolving conflicts
- Asking children to talk about something that upset them or made them angry, sharing why they felt so, instead of reacting spontaneously
- Teaching children to use their words instead of reacting physically.
- Seeking the support of a teacher or an adult to resolve the conflict
- Taking time apart from the person that has upset/angered them.
- Accepting one’s mistakes and learning from them
- Understanding how one’s actions or words may have impacted the other
- Being able to apologise as well as forgive
Social-emotional skills – Self-management skills
- Time management and organisation: developing a routine or a schedule for the day, organising one’s books/assignments and other material, maintaining a list of due assignments and homework, preparing for tests and exams in advance
- Study skills: knowing what helps them learn, taking and organising notes, strategies for learning and memorising/practising content
- Responsibility and ownership: Let them take charge of their learning, communicating their needs and asking for support (including accommodations) where required.
- Decision-making: being able to decide what is beneficial and essential for their learning and growth, knowing what to prioritise, deciding what subjects/activities or skills they may be interested in and want to pursue.
Social-emotional skills – At school
Children spend a significant amount of time in school where they learn to interact and form bonds with their peers. Hence, educators must understand the impact of social-emotional skills a child has in handling social situations. Apart from the strategies mentioned above, teachers can also instill appropriate classroom behaviour in the following ways:
- Waiting for one’s turn to ask or answer questions, staying in a queue, etc.
- Raising one’s hand for asking or answering questions
- Seeking permissions to accomplish tasks or take breaks
- Asking for help or support when needed
- Complying with instructions
- Listening and responding to the teacher appropriately
- Understanding the consequences of one’s behaviour