We all want the best for our children.  Whether it’s packing a healthy lunch, enrolling them in fun activities or helping with homework, as parents we work tirelessly to ensure that their needs are being met.  But all too often, we neglect something important: paying attention to our children’s emotional development. That’s why SocialMoms recently hosted a live panel discussion featuring an incredible panel. The YouTube video from our session is below and contains great insights and answers questions from a range of parents and perspectives. Panelists included:

SocialMoms.com founder and chief executive, Megan Calhoun, moderated the event and kicked things off with a definition of Social Emotional Learning. Edutopia.org defines Social Emotional Learning as learning how to understand and manage our emotions, even the difficult emotions like “frustration” and “disappointment”. In short, SEL is all about learning how to:

  • Make friends and show people that we care about them.
  • Work in a team and collaborate well.
  • Make healthy and responsible decisions, both long and short-term ones.

Don’t let the official term be intimidating. As Carol Lloyd pointed out, parents are practicing Social Emotional Learning with their children as soon as they are born. While parents may not have the specific expertise, they are demonstrating how we express our emotions — and hopefully, to manage them.

Why is SEL important? SEL is the processes through which children — and adults — learn the attitudes and skills necessary to identify, understand and manage emotions. Social and emotional learning helps our children become better citizens, better people, building a better society.

Boosting social and emotional learning skills has proven effective to help mediate aggression, reduce bullying, increase achievement test scores by 11 percentile points, improve coping abilities, and limit drug and alcohol addiction. Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen and worker. It’s provides the foundation for kids to start more and more children on a positive path.

Jessica Lahey provided a very common example. Parents often tell their children to “use their words” and now, in some schools, students are encouraged to debrief about their emotions and experiences during recess.  This empowers kids by giving them a language for describing their feelings.

Linda Burch went on to demonstrate how this evolves over time.  A young child may just be learning to “use their words,” but a high schooler could be lamenting over “digital drama” or the “drama of relationships.”  It’s remarkable how quickly things can change in just a few short years.

The full insightful and informative discussion we encourage parents of all ages to watch also covers tools that parents can utilize to best support their children. Watch the video and, if you blog about it, please send an email to megan@socialmoms.com. We are actively interested in working with bloggers to help spread the word about the importance of social emotional learning.

The event was first in a series presented by The SocialMoms Network, If You Can, Committee for Children, and Ashoka. More background on our amazing panel:

Carol Lloyd is the Executive Editor for GreatSchools.org. Previously, she was an award-winning columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and education editor at Salon.com. Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, This American Life radio show, Salon.com, The Los Angeles Times, and the SF Weekly, and she’s been featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, PRI’s The World and KQED’s Forum and To the Best of Our Knowledge. Her bestselling book “Creating a Life Worth Living” was published in 1997 by Harper Collins.

Jessica Lahey is an educator, writer, and speaker. She writes about parenting and education for the New York Times, the Atlantic, Vermont Public Radio, and her own blog, Coming of Age in the Middle. Her book, Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail, will be published by HarperCollins in fall 2014.

Linda Burch is a co-founder and the Chief Education and Strategy Officer of Common Sense Media, a not-for-profit dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and the independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. Linda leads Common Sense Media’s education efforts, new program and strategy development.   She is the architect of Common Sense Media’s K-12 Digital Literacy and Citizenship program that is now being used in over 35,000 schools across the country.