Committee for Children Blog

How to Access Your SEL Superpower and Avoid Pandemic Panic

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a lifelong process. Adults need to nurture their social-emotional skills and competencies in order to effectively model these skills for kids and assist children in their own growth and development. In times of crisis, it can be particularly hard to access the social-emotional skills that have served you well in your life. It can be even harder to work on areas that could use some shoring up. However, now is a great time to get started!

So, ask yourself, “With everything else that’s going on and knowing I may have little time to myself, what can I do to access and enhance my SEL superpower?” Here are a few ideas I’m trying out.

Read Together

When reading to your children, pick books that have storylines and themes related to social-emotional skills. Don’t read these just for the kids. Take time to discuss the scenarios with your children. Talk about the situations and characters and how they calmed down, solved problems, navigated challenges, or developed relationships. Give them examples of how you’ve used these skills, or share stories about times you were successful in approaching challenges and identify the strategies you used. This is a teaching moment for your kids—and a reminder for you of your own abilities. If you’re comfortable, relate those same strategies to something you’re going through or dealing with right now. If you need book recommendations, there are plenty out there. Here are a few:

Art Together

There’s no shortage of art project suggestions flying around the internet. I’ve always felt I lacked talent in visual arts, but I find that doesn’t matter when I make art with my kids. They’re very forgiving critics. Their own artistic expression is endlessly amusing. Yesterday, my son presented me with a creature he claimed was half peacock, half rocket, half sea creature, and half Pokémon (we’re still working on fractions). Here are some creative activities that may help you and your children express your emotions and have good social-emotional learning moments:

Make Media Your Friend

Libraries, education businesses, and others are opening their doors to let us all enjoy their media selections during school closures. I’ve found a few interactive activities I can do with my kids that help us connect, talk through good strategies for being mindful of each other’s needs, and deal with strong emotions—and that aren’t excruciating for me to listen to or watch. Here are three I’ve been using consistently, including one that sets a good foundation for ongoing conversations about feelings and SEL strategies:

We’ve watched Inside Out twice so far and talked about the feelings and how they work together in the film. My daughter sometimes tells me how she’s feeling by saying she’s one of the characters. Yesterday, she flopped on the couch and stated, “I’m sadness.” Here’s a guide to watching the movie and discussing SEL with your kids.

Check Yourself

There are various emotional intelligence self-assessments available online, including one I’ve used that was created by Paul Mohapel. You can use these self-assessments to better understand what your strengths are and think about how you might rely more on those strengths during this time. You might even choose a couple of items from the assessment to write on a Post-It or whiteboard as a reminder for yourself throughout the day. My current favorite is: “I control urges to overindulge in things that could damage my well-being.” I put it right above the area where I keep those tempting tortilla chips.