While a robust academic curriculum is important for your child, there are other skills that factor into a student’s success both in school and in life. For a child to be successful and thrive, learning and understanding key social emotional wellness behaviors such as coping, managing emotions through gratitude, or adjusting one’s mindset based on what they can control, are critical for student well-being.
What Is Social Emotional Wellness?
Social emotional wellness is a person’s ability to understand and manage their emotions, make responsible decisions, build and maintain relationships, and understand and empathize with others. These skills(opens in a new tab) help young people and adults to achieve their goals, develop healthy identities, and manage emotions.
Tips for Improving the Social-Emotional Well-Being of Students
As we strive to normalize mental health conversations and support the whole student—not just academically, but socially and emotionally, Connections Academy developed tips on how you can improve your child’s social and emotional wellbeing.
1. Instill Coping Skills
Helping students and children develop coping skills for stress, anxiety, anger, and other unpleasant emotions can set them up for positive emotional regulation in the long-term. Consider these simple activities that can help children develop coping skills, along with being fun:
- Help them learn and practice positive self-talk (“I can handle this.” “I can do this.”)
- Journal or write a letter to someone in your family, or even a historical figure
- Clean, declutter, and organize
- Do a puzzle
- Cook or bake
2. Start a gratitude practice
Research proves(opens in a new tab) that gratitude has the ability to positively impact the brain and wellbeing. At the start or conclusion of each day, have your child write at least three things they are grateful for and encourage them to discuss with family or friends.
3. Practice the “circle of control” exercise
Amid the uncertainty of current events, teaching children to focus on what’s within their control can help them feel safe, centered, and can ease the anxieties of the unknown. To practice the circle of control, simply draw a circle and have the child write within the circle all the things that they can control (their attitude, finding fun things to do at home, following social distancing, etc.). For outside the circle, they write everything that is outside of their control (what’s in stock at the grocery store, how long this will last, etc). Work with the child to create actionable ideas on what they can do within their own circle of control.
4. Initiate self-care practices
Self-care is not limited to adults, and children should feel empowered to integrate activities that make them feel happy and healthy. Ideas include:
- Do some light exercises every day
- Limit TV time and read a book instead
- Take a relaxing bath
- Celebrate the small daily wins
5. Take mindfulness breaks
Mindfulness helps children calm down, while also allowing information to more freely flow to the prefrontal cortex, better enabling them to make good choices and retain information. Set mindfulness breaks throughout the child’s day to check in where they are mentally. Ask them to stop and stretch, or even take a few cleansing breaths. There are a variety of age-appropriate videos on mindfulness online. Some of my favorites include:
- Mindfulness with Mindful Ozzy(opens in a new tab) (Grades K-3)
- Fablefy’s Two Minutes of Mindfulness(opens in a new tab) (Grades 6-8)
- Mr. Colin Dodd’s Snowy Mindful Minute(opens in a new tab) (Grades 9-12)
6. Facilitate safe socialization.
Remember, much of your child’s time at school is about having fun and socializing with friends. Ease their longing to play with their friends via technology tools that allow socialization from afar, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime on a computer or phone. Ideas include:
- Schedule FaceTime dinner parties with friends and family
- Host a virtual show-and-tell or talent show
- Take virtual field trips to museums or foreign countries
- Create fun themed dress-up days
Supporting the Social Emotional Health of Your Student
By creating life lessons out of the present times to foster your child’s ability to adapt and change, these social and emotional wellbeing skills will help foster your child’s ability to adapt and change far into the future. A lack of social and emotional well-being in a student can make it hard for them to find success later in life.
Connections Academy knows just how important these life skills are to developing confident and capable adults, so our learning experience is designed with that in mind and tailored to supporting each student’s individual needs. Find out if virtual school is right for your child – take our online quiz today!
Morgan Champion is the Manager of Counseling for Connections Academy Schools. In her role, she supports counselors across the country to implement best practices within their schools related to academic, social/emotional, and college and career readiness. As a previous school administrator, counselor, and teacher, Morgan is passionate about helping students develop skills to be resilient while supporting parents in fostering these traits in their children.