The what and why of social-emotional learning

The what and why of social-emotional learning
A lot is being said about social-emotional learning, especially with many schools focusing on them. In India, this is a relatively new term and many have failed to understand what it really means. Let’s take a closer look and comprehend why social-emotional learning is just as important as academic learning for our kids.


Simplifying the terminology

Emotion :
A strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.
That’s the dictionary meaning of emotion.

Emotional learning :
Emotional learning is often described as the process of becoming aware of feelings and reason (thoughts that come from the heart and the head) and bringing them together to make a choice.

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Social-emotional learning :
This is the process of acquiring and applying the skills required to understand emotions, establish positive relations, and foster empathy. All of these lead to making responsible decisions.

Understanding its importance

Social emotional learning has proven to increase achievement in various fields significantly. It also, evidently, sharpens people skills in kids by imbibing behaviors such as empathy and kindness.
Moreover, these kids are more likely to be happy, confident, and positive, reducing the probability of depression by a great margin.
Early social emotional skills help children grow into successful individuals professionally and personally.

What social-emotional learning entails

Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making are the five pillars of social-emotional learning.


As the name clearly suggests, self-awareness is about understanding oneself, mainly the emotions, goals, and values.
This understanding directly affects actions. They become optimistic and efficient.


Management comes after self-awareness. The feelings that are recognized are thereby regulated so as to balance emotions and actions. Managing stress and controlling impulses are easier when children are taught self-management.

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Social awareness

It is in this step that empathy comes. Understanding people from different wakes of life and feeling compassion are two major aspects of social awareness.

Relationship skills

Man, being a social being, needs to build healthy relationships. Kids who are taught about forming and maintaining relationships are much more positive and confident.
These skills include seeking help, actively listening, clearly communicating, and resisting social pressure especially when it is inappropriate.

Responsible decision making

Making choices that are constructive is a very important skill, personally and socially. Responsible decision making comes from understanding ethics, behavioral norms, safety concerns, and well-being of self as well as others.

Our role as parents

While schools are already integrating social-emotional learning in the curriculum, we have a massive role to play. Here’s what we can do:

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1. Take the lead: Children pick their lessons from us. They react to situations exactly like we do. Thus, it entirely falls on us to teach them through our actions. Let’s be the perfect role models.
2. Discipline positively: Set expectations. Kids want to make sure we are pleased with them. When they know what we expect, they are more likely to live up. Also, when kids act out, it is best to discipline them by talking about the behavior and why it is bad.
3. Be expressive: Talking to kids about their emotions is a great way of helping them understand. Label every emotion and talk to them about the triggers and consequences of acting upon each emotion.
Social-emotional skills are enormously useful at every step. It is highly advisable that we start incorporating them in our kids from an early age.

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