Does your child have trouble listening and following directions? Does your child get upset when given challenging schoolwork? Does your child have trouble making friends? If so, your child may need help building social emotional skills.

            Social and emotional learning (SEL) is how children learn to understand and manage their emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. These skills are based on five strategies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Buffalo County Community Partners Behavioral Health Coordinator, Tana Miller, says, “Social emotional development is giving children the skills they need to learn how to listen, pay attention, manage their emotions, and get along with others. The skills we teach them today, will help children thrive in the future.”

            Research shows that SEL makes a difference in your child’s success in school, work, and life. Children who have strong SEL competence are 50% more likely to graduate from high school and have a full-time job by the age of 25. They are also twice as likely to earn a college degree. Research also suggests that children with strong SEL skills have more friends, feel connected to school, and want to do well. Through participating in SEL, students learn the skills to succeed in every facet in school and the rest of their lives.

            Within the school, occupational therapy (OT) practitioners are an important resource for school faculty and students. OT practitioners focus their treatment sessions on education, play, leisure, common activities done throughout the day such as eating, dressing, and toileting, and sleep. OT practitioners give teachers and staff the tools and knowledge that can help with reducing challenging behaviors and promote social emotional development within the classroom. They can also help your child develop the skills to:

  • Develop positive relationships
  • Resist inappropriate social pressure
  • Understand social expectations and manners during different situations
  • Participate in social groups
  • Maintain academic performance during frustrations
  • Self-regulation techniques to control emotions

Social and emotional learning are critical skills needed to help your child thrive in both the classroom and in life.  Reach out to your school or an occupational therapy practitioner for more tips and ideas on how you can promote stronger social emotional learning skills in your child.

Written By: Maggie Lesiak, Behavioral Health Coordinator Assistant at Community Partners. Maggie is  finishing up her degree at Central Community College to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant. She would like to practice occupational therapy in the pediatric or school setting so she can make an impact on the kids in her community by helping them live their life to their fullest potential.

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