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LIFESTYLE

Ten ways to help your kids build social and emotional skills

Help your kids reach their full potential with these easy tips to integrate into your daily routines at home

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LIFESTYLE

Ten ways to help your kids build social and emotional skills

Help your kids reach their full potential with these easy tips to integrate into your daily routines at home

When it comes to kids’ learning, it goes beyond academics. Social and emotional skills—like empathy, resilience and problem solving—are crucial to kids’ well-being and helping them reach their full potential. And there’s no better place to start than at home! Here are 10 ways you can reinforce your kids’ skill development at home and integrate it into your everyday routines.

1. Lead by example

Help your kids build empathy by letting them catch you doing good. When you’re done shoveling snow off your own driveway, take your kids with you while you shovel the neighbor’s walk, too. When you stop for a treat on the way home, pay the bill for the car behind you in the drive-through. Kids notice these small moments and internalize them.

2. Clean house for a cause

Take time to have a family discussion about an issue in your community like homelessness or poverty. A couple of starter questions: “Why might someone not have a job or food?” “What might it feel like to live on the streets?” Then take action to make a difference: collect items your family no longer uses or ask the kids to find clothes and toys they’ve outgrown. Donate them to a local women’s shelter or another service organization.

3. Build goal-setting skills by including your child in the planning process

Goal-setting is a key part of social and emotional learning. If your child has a birthday coming up and wants to have a party, write a list of tasks and set goals together. For example, you need to send invites to friends and classmates, plan party games and shop for decorations and food. Complete the tasks together and check them off your list as you go.

4. Make thanks a habit

Invite every person around the dinner table to express gratitude for something that happened that day. You can also help your children start a gratitude journal. Every day, get them to write down three things that make them happy.

5. Help your kids work through problems The next time your child comes to you about an issue, like a conflict with a friend at school, discuss the situation to help them discover a new perspective and consider the feelings of others. Ask questions like, “Why do you think your classmate was upset with you?” or “What would you do differently next time?”

6. Champion a pet project Caring for an animal is a natural way to nurture compassion. If you’re not ready for a furry friend of your own, offer to dog-sit for the neighbors. Taking care of a dog is proven to nurture empathy and responsibility, and boost kids’ self-esteem.

7. Share responsibility as a family Members of efficient teams report that they can depend on each other. Everyone has a role to play. At home, put your child in charge of watering the plants, for example. Tap older kids to care for family pets. Show them that small actions every day contribute to the overall vitality of the family. They will be more likely to take those skills out into the world and give back to others later in life.

8. Turn commutes into communication Make the back seat of the car a gadget-free zone. Encourage your kids to talk, or take the lead by sharing stories from your day. Make it fun: tell jokes or start a game where everyone makes up a story by saying one word each.

9. Add self- and social-awareness to story time Use the characters in books as a jumping-off point to help your children articulate their own emotions and to encourage them to think about the feelings of others. Ask, “How were the characters feeling when that happened?” “How would that make you feel if that happened to you?”

10. Use everyday moments as learning opportunities Talk through everyday situations with your child to help them build skills like adaptability and problem solving, and to help them deal with frustration. For example, if you’re making breakfast together and run out of pancake mix but have lots of bread, ask them what you might make instead. Or if they run out of materials when they’re working on a school project, have them think of a creative solution to finish their assignment.

The Allstate Foundation and WE are committed to giving teachers across America free resources to engage their students in service-learning and teach them the social and emotional skills they need to succeed in the future.

To learn more, visit WE.org/lifeskills

An initiative of WE | Made possible by The Allstate Foundation
An initiative of WE | Made possible by The Allstate Foundation