Social-emotional development is an important life skill we often learn while at school, interacting with our teachers and peers. We practice empathy, self-control, and decision-making. We can practice social-emotional development at home too! Here are some ways to promote social-emotional development at home:
Think out loud/self-talk: Children are learning how to regulate their emotions. We can model and teach self-regulation by thinking out loud or practicing self-talk. If you drop your phone on the floor, you could say, “I dropped my phone and I’m worried it may be broken. I am going to take a deep breath to calm my body down before I pick up my phone.” Talking your child through how you are feeling and showing them a way to work through those feelings teaches them to recognize their own emotions and how to self-regulate. Your thought process becomes an inner monologue for your child as they continue to develop self-regulation.
Puppets/dolls: At school, children may have the opportunity to play with dolls and engage in pretend play. At home, we can create an extension of pretend play by using puppets or dolls to teach emotions and empathy. You can use the puppets or dolls to discuss feelings like happy, sad, and angry. As the puppet or doll, say to your child, “I’m feeling angry. I’m going to take a deep breath and count to five” and see how your child responds. Your child may display empathy by talking to the puppet about how they feel or offering them another calm down strategy.
Do a job together: Children can learn responsibility by doing a job at home, like cleaning up their toys. Doing a job with your children is a great opportunity to bond, but it also teaches decision-making. If you’re cleaning up toys, you can prompt your child to clean up all the red toys first or ask them how they would clean up. Talk them through the process, say, “look at these fun toys! I want to protect them by putting them away.”
Reflect: We experience so much over the course of a day. As a child, it can be difficult to process certain moments like why we can’t go outside if it’s raining or the importance of eating our vegetables. We may also want to talk about something that made us happy. Take time every day to reflect on things you experienced like something funny you heard on the radio or how you worked through feeling sad. By reflecting, we are teaching our children to identify problems and come up with solutions. We are also teaching our children about how to process emotions and recognize when we need to talk through our feelings.