Social and Emotional Skills: Introduction


Children are born with a natural impulse to connect with others. Infants are soothed when fed and held and naturally seek out faces to look at. As babies grow and develop language, they start to have more clearly defined thoughts and more specific and refined feelings. Amazingly, this process mostly happens automatically and without our thinking about it. Most parents, when making faces or sounds or talking to their babies don’t imagine that they are teaching them to experience, think about and understand the world-but they are.

The same can be said about how we learn to relate to others. As babies we are usually most directly connected to parents, family members and primary caretakers. These people provide the first lessons about what we can expect from other people. Will people be kind or harsh? Take care of our needs or leave us to stumble? Will they help us be confident and secure in the world or suggest that the world is chaotic, unpredictable or even dangerous? As we mature and move toward college and adult life these experiences become a series of consistent social and emotional activities or skills. These emotional and social skills have significant impact on our ability to succeed, thrive and engage in positive and rewarding relationships.

In this section of Set to Go we provide a way of thinking about these very complicated issues in language we hope will connect with your child. We will be suggesting ways to be more aware of feelings and personal values, how to understand your view of yourself, tips on managing problematic thoughts and feelings, and how to enhance grit. We will also look at how young people can learn to improve their relationships with the people around them and learn to deal with challenging social situations.

We hope you will read this section as your child does and take time to digest and maybe even discuss some of the more interesting or challenging ideas included here. Remember, there are no “right answers” to how to do things, but we hope we have given you a good framework for thinking and talking about these important ideas.

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