Supporting Social and Emotional Learning in Faith Communities
June 7, 2017
Raising a child is no easy mission. Parenting is one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding tasks there is!
While it’s important for parents to provide food, shelter and safety for their children, it’s also necessary for parents to focus on helping their children understand and express their feelings. Learning how to express trust, joy, anger, love, sadness, and fear will help children navigate relationships, develop self awareness and self esteem, and build their executive functions to tackle the many things the world throws their way.
Starting from birth, babies learn who they are by how they are treated. As the researchers of attachment theory and neuroscience have found, the foundation of safety and a sense of self comes directly from the interactions between infant and caregiver. Loving, predictable and consistent relationships provide young children with a sense of comfort, safety and confidence. They teach young children how to form friendships, communicate emotions and deal with challenges.
Strong, positive and consistent relationships with parents and caregivers help children develop trust, empathy and compassion, while also allowing them to develop a sense of right and wrong. These relationships are the foundation of children’s social and emotional development.
WHAT IS SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING?
Social and emotional learning are the ways that we help teach our kids to be “whole persons” - caring for their body, minds and spirits. Social and emotional learning helps kids manage conflicts with others, tensions within themselves, process emotions, make responsible decisions, and prepare themselves for the wider world.
Click here to learn more about fostering social and emotional skills with the children in your community.
RESOURCES ON PARENTING
One of the most challenging aspects for parents is finding appropriate ways to discipline their children. In fact, when Zero To Three conducted a national survey on parenting 6 in 10 parents (57%) say they struggle with figuring out the most effective way to discipline.
All parents have difficulty in navigating discipline and there are resources to help and to hear from other parents who have the same challenges! Click here for videos of parents talking about discipline dilemmas
When you talk, read, and sing with your child in sensitive, loving, and responsive ways, you build their brain and help them develop the social-emotional skills they need to succeed in school and life. Click here for tips on understanding and managing your child’s behavior, and taking care of yourself during the challenging moments too! Lina Acosta Sandaal, owner and founder of Stop Parenting Alone, states that the confusion for parents as it pertains to discipline is that “most parents feel their child should hurt or feel bad when the parents disciplines them. But actually to discipline is to teach and punishment is to hurt. A parent when thinking about setting a boundary or disciplining their child needs to wonder, what am I teaching them? Are they old enough to understand that lesson? Have I been consistent about the boundary or rule I”m setting? Most parents when they ask themselves these questions find their expecting too much from their child or they have not been consistent with the rule.”
ADVOCATING FOR SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING IN PRESCHOOLS
When social / emotional learning is done well children are equipped for the world. This is doubly true when parents, educators, faith communities and others take into account a child’s emotional needs and support them in managing their emotions.
But when social and emotional development is not taken into account, the result can be that institutions like schools and even faith based childcare settings are more likely to expel or suspend children from their programs. Its important to equate social emotional learning/development with academic success. One does not happen without the other.
Expulsion and suspension of children from early care and educational programs can be traumatic and harm a child’s social emotional development.
Over 3 million students, including preschoolers and kindergartners, are being suspended from public schools each year across the nation.
Childhood expulsion and suspension causes increased stress and anxiety to the student, teacher, and family affected, not to mention cultivating more negativity into the minds and hearts of each child.
STEPS PARENTS CAN TAKE
Parents, faith leaders and educators can work together to create healthy social and emotional environments for our kids.
We can start this conversation in our faith community, to make sure the adults in our children’s lives interact with children in positive ways. Rather than punishing strong feelings children experience, our communities can help them manage their feelings.
TAKE ACTION ON EXPULSIONS!
1. Here are some ways to get involved, make an impact, and inspire others to live their best lives now!
2. Learn About Social Emotional Learning
3. Spark A Conversation: Speak to Your Congregation About Social Emotional Development of Young Children and Preschool Discipline Policies
4. Form a Group or Committee To Work With Preschool Programs on Approaches to Managing Behavior and Banning Expulsions
5. Connect with the MomsRising Mayor’s Project: Work with Mayors on advancing the social emotional development of young children, positive discipline, and banning Preschool Expulsions
Here are a resources to help you on your journey!
Administration for Children and Families Early Childhood Development resources: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd
3 Ways Schools Can Be Supportive of Children’s Mental Health: https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/09/20/3-ways-schools-can-be-supporti...
Suspending Pre-Schoolers Doesn’t Work, How Adults Can Intervene:
Enhancing and Parenting Emotional Intelligence: