Tag: Middle School Learning Programs

back-to-school-anxiety

Part I: How To Deal With Back To School Anxiety With SEL

As the summer season bids farewell, its time to get back to school. It is a stressful time for students. They have to get back to the school schedule, work through the various activities, manage academic assignments, and more. So, a little anxiety out of the anticipation for a new session at school is expected. It is a natural response. However, if students do not learn how to cope with anxiety at an early stage in their life, it can have a long-lasting and damaging impact on their personality. In fact, depression and anxiety are among the top health issues that youth suffer from.

Students suffering from anxiety can find it challenging to conduct themselves ‘normally’ at school. Programs like SEL Adventures Platform helps students to learn social-emotional skills and be prepared to handle back to school anxiety.

Learning About Emotions

Students who feel a flood of emotions can often find coming back to school overwhelming. They feel a rush of emotions but cannot put a finger on why they are feeling them. Being a part of an SEL Adventures platform helps them get a hold of their emotions. Once they can identify if they are feeling sad, angry, frustrated, or any other emotion, they are better placed to deal with it.

SEL also helps students to deal with baseless emotions of fear that they might be feeling. It helps them become more comfortable, and the school environment seems less intimidating to them.

Make Better Decisions

Anxiety may not sound like much to a person who has never experienced it, but it can be incredibly scary, even for adults. For a child dealing with anxiety, it can be a tormenting experience. At such a point, SEL helps them plough through their emotions and helps them make sense of their immediate surroundings. It helps them get a new perspective.

To counter their anxiety, students may take to substance abuse, bad behavior, skipping school, and more. However, with SEL Adventures, they learn to cope with such situations and make better decisions. It teaches them to fall back on their parents, teachers and peers for help instead of moving away from them.

Forge Positive Relationships

SEL Adventures platform also empowers the students with the strategies to enter in positive peer relationships. Such relationships help students create a support system for themselves. This support system is a powerful tool against the anxiety they feel.

When students have friends around who want to talk to them, play with them, and listen to them, it is less likely that they will feel anxious. SEL essentially makes the school environment more positive and nurturing for the students.

Students Know They are Not Alone

With SEL programs like SEL Adventures Platform, schools can completely change the future of the students who deal with anxiety. Students will understand that they are not alone in their struggle with anxiety. There are many other students like them, tools are available to help them cope with it, and there is an entire support system to help them through this journey. In such a scenario, instead of fearing coming back to school, they will want to go to school. Regularly.

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empathy-addiction-prevention-sel

Part II: How is Empathy the Key to Breaking the Cycle of Addiction?

Addiction to drugs, alcohol, smoking, vaping or juuling negatively influences the life of the addict and their family. Getting addicted at a young age in school can completely destroy the life of a child. It leads to stunted emotional and social growth because whenever they face a challenge. Their addiction becomes their refuge. So, they never develop the skills to process their emotions in a healthy manner. That just takes them further down the rabbit hole. One of the most critical skills to break the cycle of addiction is empathy.

Addicts & Empathy

Addiction can completely change an individual. Addicts may resort to stealing or lying to get what they want. This dishonesty ruins relationships because of the loss of trust. Kids addicted to a substance will find it difficult to look farther than their need to get high. Drugs, alcohol, smoking and vaping take control of the life of the child, and they do not show any kind of empathy towards how people around them are feeling or what they are going through.

It may be their need to fit into a peer group, deal with a problem, or loss of control, addiction compromises their decision-making skills. One poor decision after another is what makes the situation worse. Building empathy in such a child can help them see a little better and re-instill the power to make good decisions. This can be for the sake of their own future or for the sake of those they love.

Nipping in the Bud

Parents and teachers have to help their students learn this skill. Developing empathy early on helps students stay away from self-destructive behavior. A habit like vaping or juuling that is trendy may not appear harmless at first. But, a Juul cartridge comes with around 200 puffs, which is equivalent to the nicotine found in an entire pack of cigarettes. With this skill, they will learn to love themselves and work towards a future rather than falling into the trap of trends.

Empathy helps them to understand how substance abuse will affect their life and the life of others around them. Whether they come across pressure or stressful situations in their lifetime, empathy will help them see the bigger picture and make better decisions.

Developing this skill will help them from falling into a cycle of addiction in the first place.

Research Supports the Claim

American Journal of Addictions published a study in 2009 that empathy-quotient was higher in members of the control group who were not dependent on alcohol. However, the empathy-quotient went down for participants who were dependent on alcohol. Empathy for self and others is a contributing factor to addiction. There is plenty of more research that draws correlations between empathy and healthy child development.

Moving Forward

Parents and teachers have to proactively work to develop empathy in kids from a young age. Parents can do it by practicing themselves. Kids will learn this skill by watching them. Schools and teachers can help their students learn empathy through targeted programs like SEL Adventures.

The Addiction Prevention Program from SEL Adventures understands the importance of teaching empathy to young students. It teaches them about the concept of empathy, how they can apply it in their life, and the importance of assertive communication. Apart from this, there are many other lessons in the program, including self-awareness, resistance to peer pressure, future planning, responsible decision making, and learning emotion display.

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addiction-prevention-sel

What are the Factors that Encourage Addiction Among Students?

It is common to find news pieces, blog articles, Facebook posts, and more detailing stories of young school students falling into the trap of substance abuse. Students, their parents and people close to them are coming forward to share stories of how addiction has completely destroyed their lives. They want to get their story out so that other children do not fall into the same cycle of self-destruction. There is enough help available today that can help students with their addictions. However, what are the factors that encourage addiction among certain students? Let’s find out.

Family History

Predisposition to addiction does not mean that a child will become addicted at some point, a family history only increases the probability of addiction. Such students may be more vulnerable to turn to an addictive substance when faced with a stressful situation.

Psychological Issues

Mental illness is not limited by age. At a young age, when kids do not completely understand mental health, problems like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders and others can be even scarier. In an attempt to cope with these issues, they may turn to substance abuse. It falls in the hands of adults around them to identify such problems, get proper treatment and help their situation.

Biochemical Makeup

Research has shown that different people react to alcohol differently depending on their metabolism. Enzymes are involved in the breakdown of alcohol and its elimination from the body. Some children may have enzymes that make them more susceptible to alcohol addiction. That is the reason some people may drink more and not feel intoxicated, while others may get addicted even with a small amount.

Academic & Peer Pressure

School is a place for children to thrive, but it can become the stressor if they do not understand how to deal with the situations they face. Some students may not be able to cope up with the academic pressures of the school. This can have many reasons. The teacher’s pedagogy may not work for them, lack of focus, or something else. Then, there are peer groups in school that may put pressure on them to dress, walk, and talk in a certain way. Often times, use of alcohols and drugs can come from giving into these pressures or as a mechanism to deal with them.

Improving the School Environment

A positive school environment helps students focus on their academic performance and overall development. Attitude of teachers, interpersonal relationships of the students, general administration, and more contribute towards the environment of a school. The curriculum and what it emphasizes on also has a bearing on the school environment. Teaching and focusing on social-emotional skills help in improving the school environment and gives students the tools to stay away from addictions.

Schools can use structured curricula like SEL Adventures that have designed dedicated program for addiction prevention. It includes lessons on self-awareness, resisting peer pressure, learning to empathize and display emotions, decision making and future planning. It prepares the students and helps reduce the probability of the students falling into an addiction trap.

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emotionally-expressive-teenagers

Part II: How Can Teachers Encourage Students to be More Emotionally Expressive?

Processing the emotions we experience towards people and situations in our life can make a significant difference in the quality of life we lead. Social-emotional learning can help students understand the emotions they feel and then respond to them in a healthy way. Programs like SEL Adventures provide teachers a structure and the tools they need to help their students learn this critical life skill.

Creating an Open Culture

It is entirely in the hands of teachers to determine the culture they want to propagate in their classroom. They should create an environment where their students can openly voice the emotions they are feeling and have a peaceful conversation about it. Instead of asking them to ‘not cry like a girl’ or ‘behave like a lady’, teachers should learn to address different situations involving different students. When students do not have to resort to shouting or violence just to voice their opinions, it uplifts the climate of the whole school.

Stop Ignoring

Ignoring emotions and directly jumping into advising can be a rookie mistake. Teachers see their students every day and they know when a student is behaving differently. Instead of directly going into a bit of life advice, the teacher should first acknowledge that the child is undergoing emotional stress. It is essential first to let the child speak, ask them questions to understand the authenticity of their claims, and then empathize with them. If necessary, the teacher can then provide the student with some advice to get out of the situation. But, most of the times, students are just looking for an ear to listen to them.

Reinforcing with Rewards

Opening up to a teacher is not easy for a student. So, if a student is showing emotions, then the teacher should encourage this behavior. A pat on the back, few words of praise, or anything else works. It should be enough to communicate to the student that sharing an emotion was brave. This will encourage this behavior among other students too, and emoting won’t be a taboo.

Add it to the Curriculum

Teachers are busy. So, it is understandable that between preparing for classes, taking classes, scoring tests, and reviewing assignments, they do not always find time to talk freely with their students. So, they should work towards making social-emotional learning a part of the formal curriculum. SEL will help them get the dedicated time they need with their students, provide them with effective tools to deal with students’ emotions, and make sure that students appreciate the importance of emoting.

Make Students Emotionally Expressive

Learning to deal with their emotions at such a formative age can be life-changing for students, and teachers are placed well to be the agents of this change. Teachers are one of the biggest influencers in a child’s life. They can multiply that influence with structured SEL programs like SEL Adventures. The program gives them a direction, the content, and the activities they can use to help their students become more emotionally expressive.

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