Ways parents can support social-emotional learning at home

Every parent wants their child to be successful, and that goes beyond just academic achievement. Social-emotional learning teaches kids to understand their emotions and build healthy relationships, helping them lead happier and more connected lives.

To support your child’s personal development, Education.com has published a series of parent guides. Part three of each guide breaks down how you can work on the five key components of social-emotional learning at home with your kid, from preschool to 5th grade. Read on for a summary of social-emotional lessons that you can find in our guides.


Being aware of your feelings is foundational to social-emotional learning, and it’s a great skill to start teaching your little one early! Practice self-awareness by asking your child to name the emotions they’re experiencing and write them down in an internal weather report. If your child is having trouble with this, it can help to have an emotion chart handy to give them a hand in articulating their thoughts.

Additionally, you can demonstrate how difficulty is a normal part of life by asking your kid to talk about tasks and processes they find hard. Chat about how your child currently approaches those obstacles, then make a plan for how they can do better next time!


Self-management is the natural extension of self-awareness. It is, essentially, everything a growing person needs to meet and achieve goals, including the ability to control impulses, manage stress, and motivate themselves.

One basic principle of self-management you can help your learner understand is that their feelings are valid, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways to react to different emotions. Show your child calming techniques for when they’re feeling big emotions that they have a hard time processing. There are a ton of different calming techniques, like deep breathing, humming, and even dancing, so encourage your child to try a bunch and pick the ones that work best for them! Other aids that can help, especially for younger kids, are sensory toys or a peace corner.

Social awareness

Being able to see other peoples’ perspectives is a vital skill to have in life, and practicing social awareness can help your child develop it. Conveniently, one of the best ways to practice social awareness is with an activity that many parents already do: story time! As you read, ask your child questions about the characters like “why did they do that?” or “how do you think they’re feeling?” You can transfer this process to real-life situations when your child has a disagreement or misunderstanding with someone, using the same questions to help them imagine how other people feel.

Relationship skills

Most parents teach their children the basics of how to interact with others, but social interaction can involve a wide range of nuances. To explore a variety of complicated social situations, family roleplaying is a fantastic tool. You can tailor your role plays to whatever social situations your child is struggling with, such as peer pressure, social exclusion, or accidentally hurting someone’s feelings. If your learner doesn’t know how to react to a scenario, you can always step in and model positive ways they could handle it!

Responsible decision making

As your child gets older they’ll have to make an increasing number of decisions throughout their day, so it’s important to prime them to think about who their choices will affect. Similar to working on relationship skills, role playing or talking through hypothetical scenarios with your child is an excellent way to build their decision-making muscles. Questions like “what do you think would happen if you did that?” can spark valuable conversations about cause and effect.

Social-emotional learning can give your child a better chance to thrive in school, in their career, and in life. Get the full lowdown in part three of Education.com’s parent guides!