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Helping Kids Develop Social and Emotional Skills

Helping Kids Develop Social and Emotional Skills

How can you help your child learn how to play well with others? Social competence not only involves the ability to cooperate with peers; it also includes such things as the ability to show empathy, express feelings, and share generously. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to help your kids develop these all important social and emotional skills.

How to Build Your Young Child’s Social Skills

Some children behave just the way you want them to, some just the opposite. As a parent, you should understand that children are like a piece of clean white cloth. It is your job and responsibility to give it some color. Or to put in another way, children are innocent and you are the ones who are responsible to shape, teach and guide them to become good people in the future. You should give them proper guidance when they are still young. The following are some tips on how to introduce social skills, particularly good manners and behaviors among children.

  1. Give your child some light chores to do. Children can already understand some instructions, as early as when they are 2 or 3 years of age. Giving them a little work to do will make him or her learn to obey and follow instructions. Remember, this is not to make your child feel tired or sad. It is good for your child when he or she starts learning to know that helping out is a good thing to do. As an example, ask your child to help tidy up the mess he or she made while playing.
  2. Reward your child with positive praises. Tell them that they have done a good job afterward. Say words like good, or brilliant after they have done what you ask them to do. This will make them feel appreciated and acknowledged after they have done something good. Always try to avoid negative words. If your child fails to do something, tell him or her that it is okay and that he can do better next time. Always remember to avoid negative remarks.
  3. Encourage good habits of saying thank you and sorry. Always say “Please” and “Thank You” where necessary. Another phrase is “I’m sorry” when he or she does something wrong. If you always practice this yourself, your child will imitate these habits. They will learn to copy what we do to them and what we do among ourselves as adults. Establishing a connection between their apology and the reason they are apologizing also helps build empathy, which is vital in good communication and interaction. You can do this by bringing their attention to the subject of their apology. You can tell them: “Do you see how sad you made your friend feel?” instead of just “Say sorry.”
  4. Talk to them and get them to talk back. Get them to say what they feel about anything. Have them confide their feelings about anything, by observing their reactions to the world around them and letting them know that you are open to their thoughts and feelings on any subject. They will learn to express themselves better. This practice is very good because you do not want them to keep their frustrations to themselves. This way, as an adult, you can learn to understand and handle your children better.
  5. Get your child to play with other children. This is a way to break their anxiety and nervousness around people. Start with small groups. Your child will also learn to share things among friends. He/she will learn to understand that sharing is a good value and children can only understand and appreciate it with other friends.

Children’s Emotional Development

Helping Kids Develop Social and Emotional SkillsEmotional development is a complex task that begins in infancy and continues into adulthood. The first emotions that can be recognised in babies include joy, anger, sadness and fear. Later, as children begin to develop a sense of self, more complex emotions like shyness, surprise, elation, embarrassment, shame, guilt, pride and empathy emerge. Primary school children are still learning to identify emotions, to understand why they happen and how to manage them appropriately. As children develop, the things that provoke their emotional responses change, as do the strategies they use to manage them.

Very young children’s emotions are mainly made up of physical reactions (eg heart racing, butterflies in stomach) and behaviours. As they grow, children develop the ability to recognise feelings. Their emotions are also increasingly influenced by their thinking. They become more aware of their own feelings and better able to recognise and understand other people’s. Thus, an emotional reaction of a 10-year-old is likely to be far more complex than that of a three-year-old. The experience of emotion includes several components:

  • Physical responses (eg heart rate, breathing, hormone levels)
  • Feelings that children recognise and learn to name
  • Thoughts and judgments associated with feelings
  • Action signals (eg a desire to approach, escape or fight)

Many things influence the ways that children express emotions, both through words and behaviour. These influences include:

  • Values and beliefs about appropriate and inappropriate ways of expressing emotions that children learn from parents, carers and school staff
  • How effectively children’s emotional needs are usually met
  • Children’s temperaments
  • Emotional behaviours that children have learned through observation or experience’
  • The extent to which families and children are under various kinds of stress

Key points for supporting children’s emotional development

Providing effective support for children’s emotional development starts with paying attention to their feelings and noticing how they manage them. By acknowledging children’s emotional responses and providing guidance, parents, carers and school staff can help children understand and accept feelings, and develop effective strategies for managing them.

Tune into children’s feelings and emotions Children

Some emotions are easily identified, while others are less obvious. Tuning into children’s emotions involves looking at their body language, listening to what they are saying and how they are saying it, and observing their behaviour. This allows you to respond more effectively to children’s needs and to offer more specific guidance to help children manage their emotions.

Help children recognise and understand emotions

Taking opportunities to talk with children and teach them about emotions helps children to become more aware of their own emotions as well as those of others. Encouraging children to feel comfortable with their emotions and providing them with practice in talking about their feelings helps children to further develop ways to manage their emotions.

Set limits on inappropriate expression of emotions

It is very important for children to understand that it is okay to have a range of emotions and feelings, but that there are limits to the ways these should be expressed. While acknowledging children’s emotions, it is therefore very important to set limits on aggressive, unsafe or inappropriate behaviours.

Be a role model

Children learn about emotions and how to express them appropriately by watching others – especially parents, carers and school staff. Showing children the ways you understand and manage emotions helps children learn from your example. This includes examples of saying: “Sorry, I lost my temper” (because no parent is perfect!) and then showing how you might make amends.

This information in the previous pages is regarding techniques and methods to develop the social and emotional skills of children which families can use at home. But to fulfill a child’s development parents must give priority to selecting a good school for their children. It is here that the real learning and development take place; schools are where with children will complete their various forms of human development, alongside academic learning.

Kala-pattana School

Kala-pattana School

Phuket’s Kala-pattana School is a school where the pupils are happy and can fulfill their potential, which is adapted to its local environment and current technology. This school develops the complete individual – instilling individual morality, preserving community tradition, and promoting good citizenship. Kala-pattana School endeavors to promote the following values: environmental protection, education, poverty eradication, philanthropy, integrity, and democracy & gender equality. The school strives towards getting its pupils to perform at their full potential by focusing on developing the complete individual. The lessons at the school are focused on enabling students to analyze and create and also focus on social and emotional skills for a child.

Their point is that the school of the future, in fact the school of today, must change from being simply a provider of knowledge to kids. It should be changed to a lifelong learning centre and a hub for economic and social advancement for everyone – for students, for parents for the whole community. That means real policy change. There are more than a million schools around the world and that’s what they have to do so that schools can provide the knowledge and information that people want and people can use to improve their lives.

The key skills that are needed are critical thinking skills that allow finding and separating out the relatively small amount of relevant, valid, important information from the huge mass of mostly useless information with which they are continually bombarded. Beyond that, it is important to build skills for imaginative and creative thinking, together with the self-confidence to express that thinking. It is also important to develop positive attitudes and feelings towards learning: it is much more important that children acquire a habit for a love of learning than that they master any particular body of knowledge. The school also places great emphasis on developing a range of emotional, social and spiritual qualities that help children to lead happy lives. Another key goal of the school is to ensure that all students, without exception, achieve to their full potential. The school also aims not just to provide a quality education to its students, but also to serve as an example that can help other schools improve their quality.
Kala-pattana School uses a method of learning which focuses on Problem Based Learning or PBL. The power and effectiveness of PBL is in enabling students to become familiar with the process of inquiry and reasoning. These are skills which will suit them well not just in academic work but in various aspects of their lives. In addition, PBL – when applied in a group setting, teaches students to share what they know with others, to fill the gaps in their own knowledge with insights and ideas that are generated as a group, and very importantly, to learn how to identify what they need to know.

However, it also integrates ideas from other methodologies and includes innovations that were developed at the school. The school continually evolves its teaching methods based on its practical experience. Subjects are divided into two main categories. Thai, Mathematics and English are taught separately, because these involve foundational skills, which must be developed with practice. Other subjects are taught using an integrated project-based approach; each class does one project for an entire quarter. The school avoids the use of standard textbooks; instead teachers prepare learning materials precisely tailored to students’ needs. In all subjects, a large proportion of classroom time is spent in collaborative, group activities. The school has an intricate planning process that ensures coverage of the subject matter specified in the national curriculum.

Kala-pattana School Phuket
88/6 Moo 2, Chaofah West Road, Tambol Vichit, Amphur Muang, Phuket 83000
Tel : 076 524 700
Email :

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