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Inside Out: Exploring Social-Emotional Learning for Children

Kids learn social and emotional skills through a process known as social and emotional learning. It is all part of managing tough feelings, making smart choices, dealing with stress, setting goals, and making good relationships.

People often think that kids learn social and mental skills on their own as they grow up without being taught. On the other hand, kids who don’t learn these skills often have behavior issues that make it hard for them to learn and do well in school. Due to this, many schools, including our preschool in Potomac, MD now have programs that teach social and emotional skills.

We don’t punish kids for not knowing how to do math; instead, we teach them. But when kids can’t control themselves, we punish them for being “bad.” What you should do instead is teach kids the skills they need to handle their feelings, cope with emotions, get along with others, and do well in school.

What is Social Emotional Learning for Children?

Social-emotional learning, or SEL, is building the self-awareness, self-control, and social skills necessary to do well in life. People who have good social and emotional skills can handle everyday problems better. SEL helps kids, people, and communities in many ways that last a long time. It teaches them how to solve problems well, be self-disciplined, control their impulses, and deal with their feelings.

Why is Social Emotional Learning Beneficial?

Children’s social and emotional health affects how well they learn and grow. According to research, mentally healthy children are happier, more motivated to learn, have a better attitude about school, and are more eager to participate in class events. Kids with social and emotional skills issues often have trouble following directions and participating in school activities. These kids may be more likely to have low self-esteem and be picked on by their peers. So, a child’s mental and social well-being is just as crucial as their physical health because it affects their ability to grow and their chance to live a full life.

What are the 5 Concepts of Social Emotional Learning?

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning says that SEL is made up of five core skills that kids can use in school, at home, and in their communities. These five essential skills are:


This is where you understand your feelings, thoughts, and values and how they affect your actions in different situations. This includes being able to see your own skills and weaknesses and having a strong sense of purpose and confidence.

little boy jumping up with excitement.


Controlling your feelings, thoughts, and actions in different scenarios is the skill of reaching your goals and dreams. This includes putting off getting what you want, dealing with stress, and feeling motivated and in control of your life.

Relationship Skills

The skills to make and keep good, helpful relationships and the ability to get along with people and groups from different backgrounds. This includes being able to talk and listen clearly, working together to solve problems and healthily settle disagreements, doing well in situations where social and cultural expectations and chances vary, being a leader, and asking for or giving help when needed.

Responsible Decision Making

The skills to make caring, helpful decisions about how to act and connect with others in various settings. This includes thinking about morals and safety and the pros and cons of different actions for one’s own, others, and the community’s well-being.

Social Awareness

The capacity to see things from other people’s points of view and feel what they’re feeling, even if they come from different countries, backgrounds, or situations. This includes caring about other people, understanding broader historical and social norms for how to act in various situations, and finding tools and supports at home, at school, and in the community.

soccer team forming huddle

How to Promote Social and Emotional Health in Preschoolers?

There are many things caregivers at our preschool in North Potomac, MD do to improve young children’s social and mental health. Two of them are creating trusting relations and intentionally teaching young children social and emotional skills.

Building Trusting Relationships

Relationships are important for young children to learn and grow. A teacher-student bond based on trust and care is crucial for a child’s growth. Children who trust their teachers are more likely than their peers who don’t have trusting ties with their teachers to ask questions, solve problems, try new things, and say what they think.

Kids do better in school, with their friends, and with their emotions when their teachers build close, trusted relationships with them. But being nice and interesting isn’t enough to win the trust of every child. How can teachers build ties of trust with all the kids? It’s important to always show kindness, affection, respect, and care.

Teach Skills Intentionally

A good program for young kids should help them learn how to get along with others and deal with their feelings. Kids learn how to get along with others and handle their feelings with the help of their parents and other adults who care for them. All adults who care for children can support their social and mental health on purpose by using children’s books, planning activities, coaching on the spot, giving good praise, showing kids how to behave properly, and giving them cues. In early education, children need to feel loved and cared for all the time, even on bad days and when acting up.

Final Thoughts

Building trusting relationships with kids is good for their social and emotional health. This can happen when parents and other caregivers show warmth, affection, and respect. Adults can teach and improve these skills on purpose by using methods that have been shown to work to teach, model, and reinforce good behavior. Preschool classrooms show that parents and teachers who emphasize improving kids’ social and emotional health get lots of happy, active kids who learn how to avoid and fix problems, share and take turns, and talk about their feelings in healthy ways.

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