I’ve partnered with We Are Teachers and The Allstate Foundation to talk about the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) for teens. This post is sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All opinions are my own.
Do you sometimes look at your teenagers and wonder if they’re going to be able to survive without you?
On the bright side, I feel like the skills my teens are most lacking in are the ones they can most easily learn, like laundry and cooking and remembering to feed the dogs without being told.
They don’t excel in those areas, but it’s mostly from their active avoidance of practice. They’ve suffered countless lessons in when and how to wash your clothing so you don’t smell like a wild animal and they’ve all been forced to contribute in the kitchen from time to time. I’m certain they have the basic skills to succeed at these tasks despite rarely having the pleasure of bearing witness to such.
When they’re no longer patrons of mom’s kitchen and laundry room, I am relatively certain, okay, call me hopeful, that their latent abilities will kick in and contribute to their survival.
While I may have some lingering questions about their personal hygiene choices or their ability to throw together a meal that requires fire, I am much more content with the work we’ve done to help with their development of the skills required to become confident decision makers who are kind, thoughtful, contributing members of society. (Yep, hashtag winning!)
What Is Social and Emotional Learning
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which people learn to understand and manage their emotions. Doing so helps you learn to set and achieve goals, develop empathy, grow positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
SEL skills fall into five basic categories: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.
But you’re not born with these skills. They take time, practice, guidance, and awareness to develop. Helping your teen navigate life while developing these skills can have a significantly positive impact on them. Mastering these skills helps people succeed in various areas of their lives, from having positive relationships with friends and family to securing employment and achieving financial goals.
The Allstate Foundation created the ‘Happy, Successful Teens’ SEL Parent Guide to help parents and teachers empower students with SEL. By acquiring skills like team work, empathy, and resilience, young people will have the skills needed to have successful lives and careers.
You can see the guide and learn more about SEL on the We Are Teachers site: ‘Happy, Successful Teens’ SEL Parent Guide
Your Teen and Social and Emotional Learning: How You Can Help
Helping teens acquire the skills of SEL is a commitment that starts when your children are very young, but reinforcing and building those skills as they grow is important to ensuring they’re fully developed as they enter adulthood.
See something, say something
As a parent I use this mantra to remind myself to positively encourage and reinforce good behavior and decision making with my children.
When I see one of them choosing to be kind, controlling their emotions in a frustrating situation, or opting to make a good choice when a bad one would’ve been easy, I make it a point to call them out for their good deeds.
Praising them for doing the right thing is often more powerful than punishing them for doing the wrong thing. In doing so, not only do they get to avoid your wrath, they get the benefit of experiencing what doing the right thing feels like—what it feels like to make your parent proud, to make another person feel good, and to feel pride and accomplishment in one’s self.
From the guide: I love that The Allstate Foundation’s ‘Happy, Successful Teens’ SEL Parent Guide provides options for what to say when it comes to praising teens in a way that helps them develop self-awareness.
Listen, don’t lecture.
I can go for days when it comes to driving a point home, but when it comes to talking to teens, we all know what they hear when the adults start droning on…
Listening allows me to understand them and the things they’re struggling with better. It gives me an opportunity to find ways to fill in the gaps in their thinking, provide them with knowledge they need to make better choices, increase their confidence, or refocus their objectives.
Listening allows both you and your child to learn.
Pro Tip: Start conversations with your child when you’re in the car. It’s a great way to have a set amount of time for a conversation to last in case you realize you need it to end quickly, but it also prevents your child from escaping too soon if you decide it needs to go on a little longer.
From the guide: Feeling the awkward silence? Try the questions on page 8 of the guide to help spark some meaningful conversations with your teens.
Remember, kindness is key.
Along with respect and empathy.
Teenagers tend to know what being kind looks like, but sometimes it’s challenging for them to think outside of themselves and their friends to imagine how others may be impacted by a situation.
Volunteering helps with this.
Giving teens the opportunity to interact with others who are less fortunate than they are encourages gratitude for what they have while also allowing them to connect more with those they are serving. I believe that helping teenagers attach real people to the plights and situations they’ve heard of allows them to understand those experiences in more meaningful ways leading to the development of empathy, kindness, and respect.
From the guide: Try some of the small acts of kindness listed in the guide yourself. One way we inspire kindness in our kids by doing small gestures for them ourselves so they know how kindness feels and are eager to gift that feeling to others.
This post was written as part of The Allstate Foundation and We Are Teachers SEL Parent Guide campaign, and sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All opinions are mine. The Allstate Foundation empowers young people—and those that guide and teach them—with social and emotional skills to build character and transform lives. Learn more at www.allstatefoundation.org