Regardless of what school, college or careers look like in the future, one thing for sure is that socioemotional health (building healthy relationships and regulating emotions), needs to be at the top of the list now more than ever. And although there are a number of ways of dealing with socioemotional health, I propose self expression as the first tool on this backpack tour. In this post, I will discuss 6 different techniques for helping your child’s socioemotional health.
At the PreK level, children are at the beginning stages of being their own person, learning to communicate, expressing feelings and being confident. And they need structure and routines.
So What? Who cares? Why does it matter?
They exhibit feelings of insecurity without structure, and routines.
Here’s a tip:
Do routine temperature checks. An easy way to check how the day is going. Can be thumbs up or thumbs down or verbal (great, good, not so good).
At the lower elementary level (K-2), children are starting to understand their feelings. Being able to identify, label and express feelings can help lessen “acting out.” “Acting out” can occur because children at this level do not know how to deal with all of the complex emotions.
Here’s a tip: Using any subject matter, have children talk, draw or write about feelings using adjectives. Also, read fiction and nonfiction books to them about characters who demonstrate resilience despite their feelings or challenges.
At the upper elementary level (grades 3-5), children begin to interpret things. Talking about and normalizing feelings is essential for socioemotional health.
Here’s a tip: Children at this level can read fiction and nonfiction about how others overcome struggles, challenges or obstacles. Don’t forget the most important step after reading though. Discussing. Have them write down their feelings and thoughts.
So What? Who cares? Why does it matter? Helps with anger and feeling powerless.
At the middle school level, adolescents want their feelings to be acknowledged, heard and respected. Expressing oneself through journaling is an effective strategy.
So What? Who cares? Why does it matter? Journaling captures thoughts, progress and interpretations. Personal growth is another benefit.
Here’s a tip: Helping preteens and teens talk about feelings in safe spaces and places is important. Listen with the intent to understand and allow them to be heard without judgement, criticism and/or interruptions.
So What? Who cares? Why does this matter? Helps them process different and difficult complex emotions. But can also reduce stress, grief, loss or fear.
At the high school level, teens want their feelings to be acknowledged, heard and respected like middle schoolers, but they also want a safe space too.
Here’s a tip: Small group discussions are a safe platform for openness, honesty and trust. These traits are valued at this time. Members are given enough time to fully express thoughts and be validated. Centered around topics of interest help process feelings, thoughts, events or issues.
So What? Who cares? Why does this matter? Developing positive relationships with peers and adults who respect their feelings can help with depression and withdrawal.
At the college level, young adults question how things are done. Encouraging them to use leadership roles at either local, state, national or international levels as a platform for self expression.
So What? Who cares? Why does it matter? Helps direct energy and emotions, and understand power, impact and influence.
Help support teachers and the learning process without having to know grade level expectations or teacher pedagogy (approaches). Help your child with socioemotional well being. Without socioemotional well being, it will be difficult for your child to maximize potential in school, life and careers.
And this is why socioemotional health, in the form of self expression, is the first necessary stop on this backpack tour.
(Developmental framework courtesy of Edward R. Amend, PsyD)