Social and Emotional Learning and Brain Research

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Educators utilize various resources to encourage students to develop skills to manage their emotional reactions, make good choices, and to think through difficult situations before taking action. This kind of social and emotional learning helps to build a positive and healthy school community. Parents are engaged in teaching these same invaluable interpersonal skills. The work of Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. and Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. bring together the best of neuroscience and cutting-edge research with down-to-earth, concrete strategies to support both teachers and parents in helping children to grow in their social learning and emotional wellbeing. Through their books, The Whole Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline, quick guidance is distilled into the form of a refrigerator check list and a note to caregivers.  Each succinctly sets out how-tos on this quest to, as they write: “shape hearts, minds, character, and even the structures of children’s brains.” Their recommendations include: to set clear boundaries for children including high expectations; to always handle situations that arise with love, respect, and consistency; when a child is upset, connect with them first with a calm, non-confrontational approach and wait until the child has calmed down and is more in control before attempting a teaching moment or redirection of behavior; to help this process along, ask the child to tell you what has caused their upset, allowing them to reveal their emotions to you; use empathy to validate their feelings; and finally, use a collaborative approach allowing the child to come up with ways to address the situation. The bottom line of these approaches for an individual child or for an entire class of children is to allow learning to come out of the situation and to build skills to lead to better behaviors the next time.  Children will only be able to handle their big feelings and emotions well when they have been given opportunities to develop the skill of self-regulation and making good choices.    

Posted on October 20, 2017 .