Tag: Social and emotional learning

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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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Jennifer Smith and Her Influence on SEL

https://selexchange.casel.org/2019SELExchange/blog

Jennifer Smith Miller has been tirelessly working in the field of social-emotional learning (SEL), and her method is simple – keep an ear to the ground. She believes that parents and teachers, who are one of the primary influencers in a child’s life, have a responsibility to help our children develop the crucial social and emotional skills. She focusses on the collaboration between the educators and the parents to create a thriving environment for kids to hone these skills to be successful in the future.

Why is SEL Important to Her?

Jennifer Smith is a firm believer in the fact that for children to succeed in life, they need to be emotionally well. In fact, in the numerous conversations she has had with parents and interactions with schools have only strengthened her beliefs. The parents are most concerned about the emotional well-being of their children. Factors like academic achievement, popularity at school, and familiarity with technology all come later. Schools also understand that students who are emotionally intelligent are more successful in tapping their potential.

She is now working towards leveraging this understanding and working with parents and schools to turn it into a bigger movement. Scaling the SEL efforts will only help more students to become what they want to.

Her Work

Jennifer Smith’s work revolves around educating parents and teachers to become more emotionally intelligent so that they can guide their kids better. She has recently published a book titled – “Confident Parents, Confident Kids: Raising Emotional Intelligence In Ourselves and Our Kids — From Toddlers to Teenagers.” Her writing comes from her extensive parent surveys, where parents were eagerly looking for a resource that addressed “big feelings”. But, it is an equally powerful resource for educators to understand SEL and develop their own skills.

The book recognizes the fact that the child and the adult are not static entities; they are continually changing. It offers guidance for adults to deal with emotional well-being at different stages of child development and dealing with their own emotions of anxiety, upset, anger, hurt, and more.

The comprehensive take of Jennifer Smith’s book is what has made her an authority in the field who understands the nuances of social and emotional learning.

She Continues to Strive

After providing a short guide on helping adults to improve the emotional well-being of their children, Jennifer Smith continues to hold workshops and sessions to help teachers and parents collaborate. Parents and teachers do not necessarily consider each other part of the same sphere. But, a focus on SEL may be able to change that. Through her workshops and other efforts, she wants to provide parents and educators with all the tools they need to become more emotionally intelligent and forge stronger relationships with kids to help them become more emotionally intelligent.

Jennifer Smith is working on a long-term plan that will produce powerful results in the future. She is providing parents and educators the space to learn, fall, get back, reflect, and try again. This process builds confidence, which in turn helps raise children who have a sound foundation to become more emotionally intelligent and have a better shot at success in life.

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Part II: 5 Ways Teachers Can Nurture Self-Aware Middle Schoolers

The article talks about the role of teachers in teaching middle-schoolers become more self-aware to create a thriving and positive school environment

Self-awareness is a complex subject. Even adults have a tough time grappling with it. However, the good news is that self-awareness, like any science, can be taught. With the right tools, pedagogy, and intent, schools can teach kids to hone their self-awareness skills. With the proper knowledge, young students can go on to become productive members of their communities. Here are the top 5 ways in which teachers nurture self-aware middle-schoolers.

Encourage Kids to Journal

Keeping a journal is an excellent way for students to connect with themselves. A simple act of putting their thoughts and their daily activities in writing brings new perspectives into their thinking. Students will reminisce what they did and how it affected them and others around them. A journal helps them relive the day and identify the moments they missed or overlooked. Such a daily activity builds patience and helps them get better every day.

Identifying Strengths & Weaknesses

Every child is different. They come from unique backgrounds, live vibrant and diverse lives, and have access to distinct sets of resources. Teachers should appreciate the diversity and help students appreciate them too. When they understand their strengths and find a safe space to talk about their weaknesses, they are more likely to work on them. Discussing weaknesses should not be taboo, and teachers should make an effort to make a classroom environment that allows just that.

Make Academics Relatable

When a subject is taught in class, teachers should try to connect it to the experiences and personal memories of students. For instance, if the class is about the French Revolution, teachers should ask questions like – “When was the last time you felt you needed to raise your voice against something?” This helps students reminisce, search through their memory bank and find relevant memories. Discussing these in the class will help them understand the subject and themselves better. It will also give them perspective. When multiple students share their experiences, they will realize that they are not going through certain emotions alone, and such an experience can be extraordinarily empowering.

Focus on Self-Awareness

Apart from teaching self-awareness as a side subject, teachers can also encourage schools to add self-awareness to their formal curriculum. With structured programs like SEL Adventures around, teachers can easily find all the classroom instructions, subject content, and activity suggestions in one place. It makes it easy for students to grasp the significance of self-awareness, learn quickly, and apply that knowledge via expertly designed activities.

Teaching Self-Awareness Made Easy

Self-awareness plays a crucial role in the development of a child and has a critical bearing on their future. Teaching self-awareness to students from a young age also improves the school climate and results in a highly productive learning environment. Schools have a huge incentive to provide their teachers with the right tools to teach their students to be self-aware.

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Part I: The Importance of Making Good Decisions

The article impresses upon the importance of good decisions and why students need to learn how to make them.

Decision-making is a skill. Life is a series of decisions, their consequences, and more decisions in response to those consequences. So, when life presents an opportunity to make a decision, an individual should have the skill to make good decisions and make them quickly. This skill must be acquired from a young age, and social-emotional learning programs like SEL Adventures help students to do just that. The importance of making good decisions in life cannot be stressed enough. Let’s break it down to understand it better.

Long-term Impact

Every decision you make has a bearing on your future. It may take only a few seconds for a student to make a decision, but its impact may last a lifetime. One of the signs of a good decision is that it is taken after due deliberation. So, students should be taught the importance of taking their time to analyze a situation first and then make an informed decision. After all, one good decision can help students to push forward in life and become the individuals they want to. It also helps them avoid regrets and live a life they had always dreamed of.

Creating Leaders

Leaders have the aptitude for decision-making. They make good decisions, and for this reason, people trust them to lead. It falls upon the schools and parents of today to create the leaders of tomorrow. So, they must teach their kids to make good decisions. Leaders do not take decisions only when a problem presents itself to them. They make decisions when they want to change the status quo.

It’s a Life Skill

Good decisions create a better tomorrow. With problems like substance abuse, high dropout rates, and shocking suicide rates, there is a dire need for good decision-making skills among students. They should be able to understand others’ intentions, weigh in the consequences, and then make good decisions. This will allow them to have a fulfilling childhood and a successful future.

Making a Difference

Although we have full control over the decisions we make, we do not always have control over the impact of those decisions on other people. Good decisions help people to have a positive effect on the lives of others too. An elder sibling can guide the younger one in making good decisions. Those decisions can include pursuing higher studies, following a passion, investing time in self-improvement, or something else. Good decisions snowball and help improve lives.

Good decision-making is an integral part of everyday life. Students need role models to understand, appreciate, and learn good decision-making. Schools can also adopt programs like SEL Adventures that teach students the makings of a good decision and provide teachers with a structured curriculum to teach in classrooms.