Skip to content

SEL Makes Parenting Easier

I’m passionate about a lot of things, but one of the things that has driven my passion in education for nearly 20 years is the idea that we need to understand ourselves, our feelings, our thoughts and our behaviours in order to make sense of our world.  This is often referred to as Social Emotional Intelligence or Social Emotional Learning (SEL).  Commonly thought to be something kids learn in school, I’m here to tell you how it can making your parenting life easier.

When you give children (and adults) the tools to identify, understand, and talk about their feelings, they can problem solve challenges more effectively.  Spoiler alert, kids don’t always have the feelings we assign to them.  Despite how well we think we know our kids, even really young ones, we need to remember they are independent human beings and only they truly know what they are feeling in any given moment.  When kids can tell you how they are feeling instead of you assuming, it opens a whole new set of possibilities for navigating challenges.

 I’m NOT 😡😢😓😴…. Don’t Tell Me How I FEEL!!!

Have you ever had a child adamantly yell – “I’m NOT [insert emotion]!” – right after you have said, “you look [insert emotion].”  This is an example of us labelling a child’s feelings instead of providing them with tools to understand and share their own feelings.  Have you ever noticed when you label a child’s feelings it quite often makes things worse?  There is a lot of advice out there telling us the importance of labelling feelings for children.  I wholeheartedly agree on the importance of being able to identify emotions.  The part I want to clarify is that it isn’t our place to label someone else’s feelings, even if that someone is our child.

So how do I do this if I don’t label their feelings?

Rule Number 1: Don’t teach feelings when someone is having big feelings

Instead: Think of it like learning a new language.  You wouldn’t try to teach a child a new language while they are upset or having a meltdown.  It’s more likely you would sit together with books, label things in conversation, etc.  SEL is no different, you want to approach it the same way you might teach a child a second language. 

  1. Start simple and build your vocabulary.
  2. Use books, do activities, play games => Follow Instagram or Facebook for more ideas
  3. Practice, make mistakes, model acceptance
  4. Learn with your child (Guess what? Most of us didn’t learn this stuff as a kid and that’s ok, it’s something you can learn at any age and you’ll be happier for it!)

The Power of SEL in Parenting

Once you start to develop SEL with your child, your relationship will change because you will understand your child and their feelings from their perspective.  This is POWERFUL and opens so many possibilities for problem solving, developing connections, understanding difficulties and supporting strengths.  Guess what else?  You will learn more about yourself as a parent/caregiver and how your feelings affect your decisions and ability to navigate the ups and downs of raising resilient children.