Social skills are falling, while child anxiety is on the rise
Ninety-two percent of today’s super-connected youth (often dubbed “The Internet Generation”) go online daily, while 88% use a smartphone. Children are growing up in a world where social connections depend on a strong WiFi signal, and communication through text, instant messaging, and Snapchat are becoming the norm.
Research by Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology from San Diego State University, indicates that the social and emotional skills of youth are depleting, while rates of youth depression, social anxiety, and stress are on the rise.
A solution: Teach kids’ social & emotional skills early
In an article for Edutopia, Roger Weissberg, the Chief Knowledge Officer of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, & Emotional Learning (SEL), writes that social & emotional learning can enhance a student’s ability to succeed in school, careers, and life.
SEL can be the most proactive initiative for mental health illness prevention, as research shows that this type of learning can reduce anxiety, substance abuse, suicide, depression, and violence, while increasing attendance, test scores and prosocial behaviours such as kindness, empathy and personal awareness.
Show them what empathy looks like.
Challenge your child to be curious about other people’s feelings, perspectives, & actions. Use relatable figures, like their favourite storybook or movie characters, to discuss how they could be feeling during a conflict or challenge. Giving the opportunities to practice empathy can guide them to understand how they can step into someone else’s “shoes” to understand how they would feel or react if they were in the same situation.
Feeling nervous, scared or anxious can be uncomfortable emotions to experience. Help your child navigate their emotions through healthy discussions & role modelling. If you’re feeling stressed, role model how you handle your own emotions, by letting your child know how you are feeling and positive steps you take to manage your emotions.
Start a gratitude journal with your child.
Gratitude is connected to emotional stability and internal control. Sit down with your child and write or draw positive aspects of your day or things they are grateful for your life in a journal. This type of reflection aids in helping kids look on the bright side when they’re feeling down or overcoming a challenge. And, to see their parents are doing it too, might be the most powerful SEL trick of all!