As Bruce Lee once said “To know oneself is to study oneself in action, with another person”. With that in mind, it’s so important to become emotionally intelligent (EQ) by learning what is driving your behavior and the behavior of others. And we call this behavior your personality style – the needs and emotions that drive your behavior. Becoming emotionally intelligent also gives us a way to feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

Many parents today choose to homeschool their children for a number of reasons. Due to the Pandemic some parents have made a quick decision to teach their children at home and are looking for resources, support and ways to navigate the homeschooling environment. One of the challenges is being able to develop social and emotional intelligence in not only children that are being homeschooled but all of our children affected by this global pandemic that we are facing right now. 

There’s a lot of parents that are organically helping their kiddos to develop these skills.  However many don’t have the knowledge or structure, and feel disempowered when it comes to developing social and emotional skills in their kids. I’m hoping this blog will offer easy to apply tips for developing these important life skills not only in your children, but in yourself as a parent. 

So, let’s start by defining what social and emotional learning (SEL) is. It is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals. It is also about becoming more self aware and self managing emotions, becoming socially aware and being able to develop harmonious relationships. 

Tip 1 – Understand Your DISC Personality Style For Managing Emotions  

The DISC Behavioral Model has been around since the 1920’s and was created by William Moulton Marsden. In those days people studied the insane but Marsden was interested in understanding the needs and emotions that drove the behavior of normal people. He came up with questions that when answered identified a person’s four personality types called Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. And a person has one of these as their primary style – High D, I, S or High C. 

Each one of the four styles has a different life focus, and different emotions and behavioral needs driving their behavior that make up their personality. So, with this in mind, don’t you think it is important to understand what DISC primary style you are for becoming more self aware of your emotions? I invite you and your teen to take our free DISC assessment to learn what your emotions and behavioral needs are. Take the DISC Summary Report    

Tip 2 – Develop Empathy For Understanding Others

Becoming socially aware is when your child understands how to react to different social situations. It’s about them being able to modify their interactions with other people. This is why empathy is such an important human quality or virtue to practice in these social situations. The term “empathy” is used to describe a wide range of experiences. Generally empathy is defined as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. Once your child is able to do this, then they are able to modify their behavior depending on the situation. 

So how do you develop empathy in your kiddo? The first step is for them to understand what the definition of empathy is. Here’s one that I use when talking with teens. Empathy is the ability to understand what another is feeling and thinking with compassion and understanding. As my mum used to say, “Sandra, it’s about putting yourself in their shoes!” And compassion flows freely from the heart when we let go of judgments and seek to understand. 

I love this definition of why practice compassion from Linda Kavelin – Popov’s book The Virtues Educator’s Guide. Teach your teen that when people feel hurt or in trouble, they often feel alone. Feeling alone can make things even worse. Without compassion the world is a hard and lonely place. Linda goes on to say that being compassionate helps us to feel less alone, and also helps us to be understanding of others and ourselves.

Tip 3 – Find Teachable Moments 

If you’re engaging your teen in discussions, offering them responsibility and choice, and communicating with warmth and support, you may already be finding those moments for teaching SEL. When working with parents, I often hear, “I don’t have time to teach SEL. I have a lot on my plate right now.” 

Teaching SEL, requires commitment and some planning. Are you discouraged by this? Don’t be! The good news is that there’s another side of the story: many parents already use teaching strategies that support growth in this area. Do your kids reflect on their behavior? Do you celebrate their accomplishments? If so, you might already be supporting their social and emotional development! Find those teachable moments to give feedback – acknowledgments and for correcting behavior. Never use labels to blame or shame a child when correcting. Instead call on a human quality (virtue) that is needed in that moment e.g. “You stupid boy, just wait there and be quiet!” (Shaming and a label). Instead say, “Please put that back. I need you to be patient right now, we’ll get going soon”.  

Tip 4 – Practice Active Listening and Patience 

Do not assume that you know exactly what your child is feeling or is afraid of. Ask questions, listen actively and model eye contact, and then explain what you can in response to their questions. Validate that you see and acknowledge their feelings, fears and concerns.

If you like these tips please leave a comment and share with your friends. Also you might like to join our Facebook group here Parents with Tweens and Teens for more resources and support.