Jean Paul Sartre, in plays like “No Exit,” and novels like Nausea, masterfully showed what happens when emotions run awry or we are faced with limiting social relations. He thought the way around these issues was through social revolution and a collectivized society. But there are far less drastic solutions to social and emotional problems.
H. Gardner and T Hatch, in their famous article, “Multiple Intelligences Go to School,” laid the groundwork for the development, not just of the intelligence needed for success in a technological society, but for one where social relationships and emotions rule. We are in such a society. Many schools now explicitly teach social-emotional learning (SEL), and find that it creates a positive learning environment that results in an average 11% increase in academic achievement. Skills involved include recognizing emotions in self and others, regulating and managing strong emotions, recognizing strengths and areas of need, listening and communicating accurately, sensing one’s own emotions, respecting others and self and appreciating differences, approaching others and building positive relationships, resisting negative peer pressure, conflict resolution, and negotiating skills. SEL has replaced character education, and is helpful in bullying prevention, violence prevention, drug/alcohol prevention, and anger management.
What can you do to help your student develop SEL skills? First, practice them yourself. A fifteen-minute drill a day will enhance your ability to recognize your child’s emotional needs, and thus help him or her develop ways of satisfying them. This is crucial, not just to help them fit in, but to help them know when they should stand their ground, fight, or negotiate. When the alternative from conflict is to back off, these skills will help them distinguish surrender from peace making.
Raise them to be adults, and they will be adults.
Dr. Fred Young