Social and emotional learning starts at home. Parents and families are critical partners in children’s social and emotional development. They can model the skills, attitudes, and behaviors we want all children to master, and they can be important advocates for SEL at school.
Parents, you are creating memories for yourselves and your children right now. While we cannot change our circumstances, we can change our outlook and use this time to help our children grow in new and wonderful ways.
Ten Parenting Tips for Turning These Difficult Times into Joyful Memories
- Pause and take three deep breaths before reacting to anything. Be easy on yourself. You are a parent; not a teacher, a counselor, or a camp director. Do your best and then give yourself, and your children, a lot of leeway and grace.
- Model calm and confident behavior without minimizing fears and concerns expressed by your child. Listen very, very carefully to your children without judging their experience. A good place to do this is around the dinner table or at bedtime. “What was the high point and low point of your day? What is something new you learned today? What was your favorite time today?”
- Make time for yourself each day: a solitary walk around the block, a bath, a call with a dear friend.
- Allow breakdowns of tears or other shows of emotions from yourself and your children. Tell your children what you are doing to recharge yourself. When calm returns, identify what happened and talk about ways to manage moving forward. All feelings are okay.
- Add humor to each day – dress-up day, role reversals, funny hair day.
- We all have a need to feel needed and important. Consider teaching your child some life skills to your child that will also help the family. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, planning meals….”
- Play, play, play. Play helps children solve problems, try out new roles, builds imagination, and so much more. “Playing store” is a way to learn math, planning, writing, social skills. “Fixing an old bike” is a way for a teenager to learn all sorts of engineering skills and then gives them a vehicle for exploration. Traditional school will resume someday. Take this time to teach your children in unconventional ways.
- Make up new “Coronavirus Rules” that may involve letting go of some of your normal rules (amount of screen time; putting toys away every night, etc.) Calling them “Coronavirus Rules” will make it easier to change the rules later.
- Screen time is a way to give everyone a break, but it is imperative that you limit shows and games of violence, scary news, moral behavior that is not in-line with your family beliefs.
- Use these words often: (3 words) “I love you.” (4 words) “I care about you, and (5 words) I am here for you. Or if in a hurry, simply say #345
Contributor: Christine Donavan PCI® Certified Parent Coach
SEL Resources to use at Home
Jennifer Miller: Confident Parents Confident Kids blog. Jennifer Miller’s blog is all about how family members can support social and emotional development at home, and recent posts provide a range of quality resources and ideas for supporting SEL during school closures
Harvard Graduate School of Education: Caring for Preschoolers at Home Guidance for creating structure and routine and developing social and emotional skills while preschool-aged children are staying home
xSEL Labs: SEL In An Unplanned Home School Setting Ideas for setting expectations, teaching SEL competencies in context, motivating, and staying connected with social support networks
AIR: Building Positive Conditions for Learning at Home: Strategies and Resources for Families and Caregivers Four basic elements for parents on creating a supportive learning space at home, with concrete strategies in both English and Spanish
Child Mind Institute: Single Parenting During the Coronavirus Crisis
SEL 101 for Parents (2017) – An informational video to inform parents about SEL in schools and provide them with insights into SEL in their own parenting practices in order to support their children’s social and emotional development. Also available in Spanish.