Emotional Intelligence For Kids

Mother at home discussing emotions with daughter using various emotion faces drawn on paper

About this Podcast Episode

On this episode, Angela and Kristin talk about how parents can help their kids build strong emotional intelligence. They will describe the process of social and emotional learning and give tips on using activities to strengthen social and self-awareness, responsible decision-making, relationship building, and self-management.

About the Hosts

Angela Nelson, Ed.D., BCBA, and Kristin Bandi, MA, BCBA, are Board Certified Behavior Analysts with expertise on human behavior and child development. They spend their days working with parents and caregivers of both typically developing children as well as children with learning, social, and behavioral challenges, or developmental disabilities. This podcast is brought to you by RethinkCare

If you need support as a parent or caregiver of a child, we encourage you to ask your Human Resources team if RethinkCare is a part of your employer-provided benefits.  RethinkCare reaches millions of lives globally through partnerships with top organizations and Fortune 1,000 companies.


Angela: Hello and welcome to our 32nd episode of Behaviorally Speaking. I’m one of your hosts Angela Nelson, a Board Certified Behavior Analysts and mother of two.

Kristin Bandi: and I’m Kristin Bandi also a Board Certified Behavior Analysts and mother of three. As I was saying that Angie my cat jumped on me. So I’m sure we might may hear some pterodactyl screaming. We haven’t talked about that in a while. Terrible meowing. Yeah coming back into bring back into the podcast.

Angela: Oh my gosh. Well, it was so good to see you this week I think.

Kristin: Yes I know.

Angela: I don’t know if listeners realize we do live on opposite coasts of our country so we rarely get to see each other in person and it was so nice to hang out.

Kristin: I know yes it was so good and it’s funny because we like virtually see each other every day. So then when we see each other in real life. It’s like I feel like I see you all the time but I don’t so it was very cool I love it.

Angela: You know it’s cool to just pick up where we where we left off like the day before.

Kristin: Yeah, yeah, exactly yes.

Angela: Ah, awesome. Well, I’m excited about this topic. This is one of my favorites. Um, and I’m excited to dive into it today with you. Ah, so today we’re going to talk about emotional intelligence which we all kind of have heard about in the workplace as adults but we’re going to dive in a little bit more deeply as it relates to kids and you know a lot of times when we think about emotional intelligence kind of that the kid version if you will. It’s kind of I guess the loose translation would be more of the social emotional learning aspects and what a lot of schools are really ramping up these days. which is exciting so we’re gonna go to dive into that today. So, let’s kind of get into it. Let’s define and going to kind of dive into some definitions if you will.

What is emotional intelligence?

Angela: So emotional intelligence, what is that? Definitely I’ve heard about it. There’s been a lot of articles written about it. It’s defined as our ability to understand and manage our emotions and then also to be able to recognize and influence the emotions of people that are around you and so this came out not so long ago really, it was coined in 1990 by researchers John Mayer and Peter Salovey I guess I hope I’m saying that right?

Kristin: Yeah I say so Salovey.

Angela: Yeah, um, but then more people have probably heard about it from Daniel Goldman, that’s the psychologist that kind of popularized this term and this is really at the core of social and communication skills. Something else that’s important to note too and is kind of neat to understand is that emotional intelligence actually can be improved over time and the way that it’s improved is through the process of dun da dun! Social and emotional learning which is what we’re gonna focus on today. So um, just I want to mention one other important thing too in terms of why we’re talking about this so NBC News State of Parenting poll that was done a little while back showed us some interesting research. So that research tells us that people that have higher emotional intelligence actually have better attention skills fewer learning problems and more success in academics and workplace settings and so in that poll 54% of parents report having strong or report that strong social and communication skills are actually the most important skills for their child’s future success and that’s even beyond things like great good grades and technology kind of savviness and so on so definitely parents are thinking that this is a big area to focus on and hence why we’re going to dive into it today.

Kristin: Yeah, and it’s funny you mentioned I was actually looking up earlier and I know that this is a big component of schools now in the curriculum and I hear about it a lot from parents and they’re saying “oh my kids are learning that in school.” That’s so great, but I was also looking it up too and to kind of go along with what you were just saying, but one of the big um, what was something that’s so helpful about having social and emotional curriculum in school is actually decreasing like dropout rates in high school and that was just something that I was looking at but I didn’t know that you even were going to mention that the research on that poll and I was like oh well that that goes in line with what I was looking up to so.

Angela: Yeah, absolutely yeah.

Competencies of Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

Kristin: Very cool. Yeah, so let’s talk a little bit about what is social and emotional learning right? So what are the competencies just so we can all understand those and so as Angie mentioned before it’s important to understand that. Well, we really can develop these skills and we can teach them to our kids. So just to kind of level set the five competencies are social awareness and self-awareness and then we have responsible decision making, relationship building and then of course behavior management. So we’re going to break these down today so that everybody can get a good understanding of what are they? what does it mean and then of course how we can teach those and one way that we’re going to do that today is we’re going to break it by age group which I think will be really helpful. Yeah, yeah, well let’s start with the first one so self-awareness.

Angela: Definitely yeah.

Kristin: So, what does this mean? So really, It’s the ability to accurately recognize your own emotions your thoughts and your values and how they influence behavior and it’s also the ability to accurately Assess one’s strengths and then also your limitations so it’s using a sense of confidence. Optimism and then growth mindset and we did a podcast episode on growth mindset but to refresh your memory. Ah for those listeners it really just means that through the effort and good teaching our talents and skills they can improve over time. So, It’s the opposite of having that fixed mindset.

Competency of SEL #1: Self Awareness

Kristin: So self-awareness super important and I love I Love that we’re starting with this one because I do feel like maybe it sets a little bit of a baseline here for everything else?

Self-Awareness for Preschoolers (1-5-year-olds)

Kristin: Yeah, so to get started to start with our little ones. So for this one we’ll start talking a little bit about preschool. So, the preschool age maybe that two to five maybe one to five, um so some ways that you can work on building self-awareness for your kids or really teaching the skill of self-awareness is taking some time to identify or talk about feelings each day so this is actually usually where I start with parents too where I say let’s just start talking about feelings. Let’s normalize them. Let’s give words to those feelings and so I think with little ones it’s important you can say you could talk about your own feelings right? So like I’m feeling sad or I’m feeling happy but you could also point out their feelings so you look like you’re sad what’s going on right? So that’s sad and then also pointing out in like characters in books or if you happen to be watching a show or a family member. So really wherever you can infuse discussing feelings into the day could be so helpful. Yeah, yeah, and a couple other things you can do for our little preschoolers.

Angela: Yeah I Love that.

Kristin: You could teach new words for feelings I think that this is something I do a lot with my kids so it’s not just about being happy and sad right? Of course, yes, those are emotions but sometimes it’s helpful to teach excited or disappointed. So disappointed is what I use a lot with my kids because they might get frustrated or disappointed that something didn’t go the way that they want it to and then it comes out in all different ways right? So if I can get to the crux of it and say “I think you’re disappointed” you know and then we can talk about that a little bit so really important to teach them some other language as well. Yeah, and then finally teaching that feelings are important and acknowledging that they exist right? So um, we said this on ah on a previous podcast. We had a guest I remember we said I think he said you have to name it detain it right?

Angela: Um, yeah, oh that’s right.

Kristin: So yeah, remember Darren?

Angela: Yeah Darren.

Kristin: Yeah, so it’s helpful for our preschoolers to help them recognize that emotions exist and they’re okay and so the more we talk about it the more we normalize it and the more it just becomes part of their day to day. Yeah, yeah, and then one more here for our little ones similar to that I think it’s okay, also to or it’s important to teach that asking for help is okay, this is one that I get a lot where sometimes kids at this age. They just want to do it all by themselves right?

Angela: Right.

Kristin: They might not have the ability to do it and so then we see frustration and so it’s sometimes it’s okay to say you can’t be perfect right away. It’s okay to ask for help and so I really think we have to start young with teaching that skill. Yeah.

Angela: Absolutely yeah, that’s a great one all right?

Self-Awareness for Elementary Age (5–12-year-olds)

Angela: Alright so, moving on down to our elementary age, so kind of like five to 12-year-olds or so still on that same initial topic of self-awareness what are we doing to support this age group. So one of the first things you can do is use as many different words as you can to describe how you’re feeling kind of picking up with what you are saying Kristin so this is the next phase. So, you’re moving into and feeling glad or grateful instead of just happy and starting to kind of explain some rationales for those feelings as well kind of the because um, again, you can use books and TV to point out maybe more complex emotions so you’re saying things like “Ah, you know that character that that character reminds me of you when you were feeling jealous the other day. when your friend your friend got that new video game. You really wanted it” Right so, you’re starting to draw some connections and they’re starting to see those complex emotions play out on you know on the screen for example, um one that I really like too is suggesting that your child keep a journal.

Kristin: Yeah

Angela: So they’re definitely this is a good age group to introduce a journal. Maybe even if they’re not strong verbally with describing their emotions. Um, maybe taking to writing might be a good thing and sometimes parents I’ve even seen this where parents will have a journal and they’ll go back and forth and journal with each other um, maybe the child doesn’t really want to talk about it but they’re willing to write about it to you? Um, so that’s just another way that you can use a journal is not just for yourself. But you can also Journal you know, perhaps back and forth with your parent which is cool and then lastly helping them recognize their own strengths so that really ties in deeply into that self-awareness knowing about yourself knowing about your strengths or where you might need Support. It helps them. Um, you know to kind of foster those strengths and um, you can do that by helping them find maybe various related activities to do that and then also is linked to some. Good um self-confidence boosters as well. So yeah, that kind of rounds out our elementary age folks.

Kristin: Um, yeah I love that I Love the idea of the journal and I see sometimes I’ll look up journals for parents just to send them some links and there’s so many different like parent to ah, parent child journals out there and I think that’s really helpful, especially and this is kind of a nice segue into teens because we know that once kids get to teens like not all but most are less likely to really want to communicate with you. So if you can start that when they’re in elementary school and really foster that bond and that open communication that you know it could be so helpful. So yeah, definitely check out journaling. Don’t underestimate the power of journals between your kids.

Self-Awareness for Teenagers (13–19-year-olds)

Kristin: Yeah um, okay, cool. So yeah, moving through to our teens I already mentioned it. But I do think that as many of you know those that have teens know that once we get into teens. It’s a little bit harder. To coach them on these things because it just kind of comes with the territory where they think I got it. You know I’ve got this all figured out by now. But there are certainly some things that we can still do when our kids are approaching that teenage years maybe 13, 18 and beyond. So first and foremost, talking about emotions and then asking open ended questions. It’s important to remember that. Well again, you know they may not always respond or give you that answer that you’re looking for. But I think it’s important to keep doing it. So, keep showing that you have that open line of communication. The door is always open and you as the parent you’re there when they’re ready to come around and talk to you about it? Yeah, another one that might be more appropriate for teens and pretty crucial for a lot of skills. But talking about your own emotions. So really modeling that behavior for them. So, you might say something like I’m really stressed out because I have to give this presentation and maybe you haven’t prepared or it’s in front of a lot of people. But I think it’s really helpful to talk about how you are feeling when certain things happen to you throughout the day.

Angela: Yeah, like normalize it.

Kristin: Exactly yep and then I think ah the other side here, be cautious about telling your child how they feel right? So sometimes as parents we feel like we know I know best right? Like I know exactly what’s going through your head right now. Actually I ran into a situation very similar on a parent call and the parent had said to me like oh I really and it was a teenager saying I think that they were really nervous about so it was something in particular I think that they were really nervous about taking a test for example, um, but it turned out that that they, once they uncovered it. The child wasn’t or the teen wasn’t nervous at all. It was like something else was going on. It was like a social interaction. It had nothing to do with the test.

Angela: Oh.

Kristin: So, I feel like I feel like it’s important to you know, make sure that you are um you know, asking those open end questions to get information. Um, yea. And then the last one here for teens I think this one’s super important talking about the future right? So similar to what you were saying about with our middle schoolers like building confidence talking about their strengths I think for teenagers. It’s really helpful too to just say like “Where do we want to go from here” right? So, like where are your goals. What are your strengths, what might be some challenges to reaching those goals and I think that that’s going to be really helpful to develop those skills later on. Yeah.

Angela: Yeah, Absolutely yeah, that’s a good one to end up on. So let’s actually let’s dive into our next one here we’re moving right along.

Competency of SEL #2: Self-Management

Angela: So, we’ve done Self-awareness we’re going into now self-management and so that’s our ability to regulate our emotions and our thoughts and our behaviors that pop up in different situations and it’s also about being able to effectively manage our stress controlling our impulses and motivating ourselves and then lastly it’s about setting and working towards personal and academic goals. So that’s a lot. Um and there are definitely parallels to this one to that book that we always reference which is smart but scattered our favorite book about executive functioning. So it’s a good one um to check out if you haven’t so let’s keep dive in through we’re going to go right into our preschoolers.

Self-Management for Preschoolers

Angela: So again, the age kind of the toddler age up until about five years old so the first one is a teaching acceptable behavior and doing so clearly so given clear directions so something like you know, “please pick up all the Legos and put them in the clear bin” as opposed to you know, “clean up, why is it so messy in here all the time.?”

Kristin: I hear myself saying that sometimes.

Angela: I know me too. Yes, um, and then also going into the next one creating clear routines and maybe even using visuals so you could use a chart or a dry race board maybe plot out the schedule have your kids get involved. Maybe they make choices on what they want to do and so on. So yeah, creating those routines is definitely good way to kind of manage yourself and your time one thing that I like to for the little ones teaching blowing bubbles as a way to calm down. So it’s you know teaching just deep breaths might be a little bit abstract for kids. But if you’re kind of teaching them to blow these bubbles either fake bubbles or even real bubbles and here kind of helps them exercise that that concept of taking a deep breath blowing it out kind of calming your body down and then modeling self-management ourselves. This is a big theme that’s woven into a lot of our podcasts. So, this is probably nothing new for our regular users. Here’s an example right? So you’re on hold with maybe ah the utilities company or something and you know your powers out something like that. Um you could say gosh I’m feeling really frustrated I’ve been on hold for 30 minutes I really wish I could be doing something else and take some deep breaths especially at that age. They’re watching us like a hawk. They are modeling what they’re seeing so. It’s a really good way to be mindful of um your behavior in those times of stress. Um, one thing that I think is really a great idea is creating a calming area and so this is different than you know a time out zone per se it’s maybe a place where it’s quiet and it’s soft. There’s things that your child likes to do to calm them some step calm themselves down like a glitter jar or kinetic Sand and it’s a good time to maybe encourage them to go there when they start to get. You could see those precursors. Maybe you go there yourself sometimes you know, just again to model so you know creating a nice place. It’s just a good life lesson too right? Take yourself under the situation If you’re starting to get antsy or frustrated or you know so that way you don’t get so upset and maybe yell and regret it later and then yeah and then lastly limiting screen time and so we don’t necessarily mean just in the greater sense like reduce the screen time we’re talking about there’s value in not rushing to give screens anytime your child escalates in a restaurant or something you know there’s value in learning how to manage emotions how to manage when you’re bored even or just you know you? Yeah, it’s um, just this concept of seeing how you can teach their kids your kids to manage and not immediately just run to the screen time to placate them and okay, okay, you are fine here. Give you give you this great time. So definitely something for folks. It’s easier said than done but it’s something that will help you later in life if you start thinking about this in the preschool years.

Kristin: Oh that one is so important too because I feel like a lot of the time we might rush to give screens because we’re uncomfortable that our kids are uncomfortable. So it’s almost like telling yourself like I’m gonna be okay if my child is upset right now right? So, I feel like that’s definitely part of it, especially with the little ones because those tantrums can be. They could be eye opening for everyone around. Um, yeah, so okay, so moving to the root to our elementary age.

Self-Management for Elementary Age

Kristin: So we already talked a little bit about this one before but I think it’s important to really model self-regulation. So just as you mentioned for the little ones you want to do it. But then as we move through elementary age. Definitely want to continue to actually model regulating yourself. Something different for the elementary age would be teaching stress management. So, everyone can get stress right? of course. But maybe we want to talk a little bit about things that actually stress your child out and then giving them some ways to advocate for themselves. So for example, if they’re you know, stressed out about test taking, can they talk to their teacher before to get some extra help or can they come to you to ask for some help with their homework because that big test coming up is stressing them out or that speech they have to give is stressing them out. So really helping them understand ways to manage their stress and then advocate for themselves can be so helpful and then of course a chore we talk a lot of I think we’ve mentioned chores quite a bit but there’s a lot of value. A lot of value that comes from chores. But really when you’re talking about maybe managing yourself and really just completing things and getting them done I think assigning chores to your kids can give them the opportunity to practice those skills so similar to what you said before like sometimes you have to sit in those feelings the kid does and you do. We have to give we can assign chores too. So, then they have to really monitor themselves and maybe not jump over to screens. They have to finish that chore. For example, yeah, another one here stay observant of your child’s behavior and what they’re telling you so sometimes it’s helpful if you just pay it attention to those maybe nonverbal behaviors that the kids are giving you right? So are they biting their nails or are they throwing tantrums all of a sudden so you know really in order to teach your kids how to regulate themselves and how to work through some of those things we might have to start paying attention to some of those warning signs.  So when you see them then we can say oh this might be the a great time like you said before this might be a great time to go to the calming corner or the calming spot or the calming place. Whatever we call it so it can be really helpful for this age group just to start really paying attention to what it looks like when they get upset. Yeah.

Angela: Right? And they might not even realize it sometimes those feelings can kind of manifest in different ways and they come out in ways that we may not necessarily think and so just to talk about those things and help them bring that awareness is another good life lesson. Yeah.

Kristin: Right.

Self-Management for Teenagers

Angela: All right cruising on down to the teen land here. Um, again being an example self-management. We know that sometimes kids can say nasty things about their parents. But I think it’s important that we keep our composure and we’re treating our kids with respect. Um, and you know that models appropriate self-management right? So saying you know your child is yelling and you being able to come back and say you know and I’m not going to yell I’m going to go take a break. We can start this conversation in ten minutes when we’ve both calmed down right? So, it’s it. That’s a good model for how we want our kids to behave and teens and when they become adults you know in the workplace or in school and so on um, giving consequences or giving reminders of consequences of their actions and so in this sense, We’re not talking about consequences like you’re going to use lose your cell phone but it’s more like what are the ultimate results of our behavior. So um, you know actions and words really impact others such as kind of maybe hurting the ones that that we might love or maybe posting something without thinking about it on social media or maybe you’re being a cyber bully and you don’t realize it right? So, giving reminders talking about consequences of our behavior. So That’s really kind of at the core of self-management and then talking about stress management here. Um, this is we’ve talked about it for the old the younger ones too. But. This is going to be maybe more concrete ideas right? So now we can talk more directly about things like exercise and getting more sleep making to do lists so we can avoid worrying about forgetting things These sort of things can talk to your teens about hey you know you know you said that you’re feeling stressed out. These are some. Strategies that you can implement into your day or your routine and then yeah and then lastly there’s something called thinking Traps. So These are things like catastrophizing like oh my gosh. The worst is going to happen or having this all or nothing thinking or even mind reading behavior like “Oh they’re probably thinking this” so challenge them on that. Um, ask them “You know, gosh would you be would you be judging someone as harshly as you think they’re judging you” and maybe not right?? Um, or would they um you know would you would your child be making fun of someone for something that they think they’re being made fun of you know, just being very self-conscious right? So talking about that helping them bring things into perspective and kind of challenging those thinking traps. Um a little bit can help them with that Self-management challenge.

Kristin: Yeah I Love that one. It’s so important that you pointed it out and I think something similar advice I Give to parents is to especially for teens to say “Well, what would you tell a friend in that situation?” Right, so let’s use like so managing stress for example and say “if your friend came to you and said I’m so stressed out” you know what advice might you give to a friend. You might tell to your friend “Hey, maybe try exercising, how’s your sleep” right? So I feel like sometimes it’s hard to get through to our teens. But if we look at it in that way and we say well what advice would you give to someone else all right Now. Let’s figure out how you can take that own and take your own advice maybe takes them out of the equation a little bit and maybe they’re more willing to have that discussion with you? Yeah, all right?

Competency of SEL #3: Social Awareness

Kristin: So moving on to our third one here talking a little bit about social awareness and so this is really the ability to take the perspective of someone else and empathize with other people and including those from different backgrounds and cultures than yours. So It’s the ability to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family social and community resources. So ah, a lot there I will say I get this one a lot from families when it comes to perspective taking and empathy. So I get questions all the time about Well. How do I do this like how do I foster growth in this area for my kids.

Social Awareness for Preschoolers

Kristin: Yeah so starting with those little ones. Um back your feelings a little bit but really roleplay right? So, roleplay those feelings and we talked about before reading books and maybe pointing out. “Well, how do you think this other person is feeling and what? what? What do you think they could do about it?” Um, so really just kind of ah. Walking them through it a little bit when they see it with someone else in a book or in a movie I think that can be really helpful to kind of bring them more aware to those around them. Yeah, another one too and kind of seems like a no brainer right? but talk about real life social interactions.

Angela: Yeah.

Kristin: So discuss certain interactions that you might have with someone else or even maybe one that they had with a friend or again something that they saw and maybe we could talk about body Language. Maybe some the tone of voice or especially if you’re talking about feelings right? like well what might. What might have made that person feel that way and how do you know they felt that way well because their arms were crossed, or they were you know making a scowl on their face or they were crying. So, I think it’s really about just bringing for a little ones just helping them be aware of other people, how they’re feeling and really just bringing some of these situations to life. Yeah, and then another one here. So, and they do they do this one a lot in schools I think with different books and things like that. But um, you really want to make sure to expose your child to people who are different than themselves see some similarities between people that might be different right? So, this is something we’ve talked about before it can be really difficult for even some adults right to take another perspective and to see that oh that idea or that opinion. Although it’s not the same one I have still a good one and there’s value to that. So, I think it’s so important to read books and to talk to kids about diversity maybe watching shows about diversity but really helping kids our little ones see that hey everyone’s different. Everyone has different perspectives, and it does not mean that one is better than the other or one’s more valuable than the other.

Angela: Absolutely, there’s actually I think never before has there ever been as much show as much television and movies with diversity infused and um, you know it’s on all the stream networks and just on TV.

Kristin: Yeah.

Angela: Um, and so I think there’s a lot more opportunity now just in media to have good exposure to people that look differently than you.

Kristin: Yes, absolutely and then one other one here too that I’ll add practicing appreciating differences yourself right? So, this one I actually infused into an article I wrote about sibling fostering sibling relationships because this and you can do obviously with your little ones talking about like ways that family members are different so one child one of your kids might be totally different than the other but let’s talk about their differences and then maybe even how those differences can work together. To come up with one goal or you know how they can like teamwork and using their differences to really come up with something really great. So I think within the family unit and then in general just practice appreciating the differences among within yourself and family members right?

Angela: Yeah.

Angela: Right? Yeah like how differences can be a great thing. You know difference doesn’t mean bad. It can be amazing. Yeah, all right?

Social Awareness for Elementary Age

So, getting into our elementary age Kiddos um truly listening right? So if your child is upset, show them that you’re hearing.

Kristin: Right? Yes, yeah yep, so true.

Angela: Use those, engage those active listening skills so saying things like you know I can see where you’re coming from or yeah, you know when I look at it that way that would make me upset too. So, you’re using your body language. You’re using your words to show them that you are actually listening. You’re not just hearing them. But you’re really thinking about what they’re saying you’re focusing your attention on them and teaching personal space right? So, you can model this maybe put your hands out. Ah go in there. And there are personal space and kind of mimic that or mimic how someone might feel if they’re standing too close and so you’re modeling. You’re doing some role plays. Um, another one is discussing different perspectives. So, this goes along with what you were saying earlier Kristin but maybe a little bit more advanced now but pointing out similarities and differences kind of understanding and appreciating different perspectives um, pausing when you’re reading books, so this is another theme. That’s really been woven into this particular podcast but books and media using that to your advantage Asking. You know what would you do? if you were in their Shoes. So you’re really getting that that kind of awareness of other people. Um, and that empathy and then asking open ended questions without Judgment. So really kind of diving in and having discussions and hearing about what your kids you know, have to say. So yeah, those are a couple tips for the elementary group.

Kristin: Um, yeah, yeah, those are all so good I think it’s kind of like when we move into teens.

Social Awareness for Teenagers

Kristin: I think a lot of this stuff for teens here. Just kind of piggybacks off of that and I think another podcast We definitely said you know there’s various.

Angela: Is it.

Kristin: Things that you could do with your elementary kids and then as they get a little bit older. We just have to expand that right? So, you’re really setting the foundation when they’re younger. But then as they get older. Um, we have to maybe take a deeper dive into some of these things. So definitely with our teens to really work on social awareness.

Angela: Yeah.

Kristin: Talking about social issues right? So now kids are getting a little bit older, and we can talk about things like immigration discrimination and inequality and really discuss those different points of view and just maybe taking a deeper dive there so they can learn about conflict, conflict resolution and respect for other opinions. So again, just valuing So what someone else has to say it’s not right or wrong. It’s about understanding right.

Angela: And it’s not that you agree, you know you may not necessarily agree with what they’re saying but it’s how do we navigate this kind of very complex social world. Um, you know? yeah.

Kristin: Right? Yep exactly and then another one nurturing their empathy. So really relating to what they’re going through right? So I think this one’s one I talk with a lot of parents about because when kids get. Teen teenage years. They kind of feel like no one understands me right? like I’m going through this you as the parent don’t understand me my friends don’t understand me but sometimes it’s helpful to help teens understand that you know the way that you’re feeling right now I bet you a couple kids in your class probably feel the same way right?

Angela: Yeah, like every kid like everyone feels self-conscious about this? yeah.

Kristin: Exactly? Yeah, a couple kids know every single child feels the same way right? exactly and then it can be helpful to also point out things that make you as the parent right? What makes you uncomfortable because we’ve talked about before making yourself relatable especially to teens so you might say something like “I’m really feel uncomfortable when I meet new people”, or “I feel really uncomfortable giving a presentation in front of all these people but I’m going to do it because it’s part of life.” But I think sometimes it’s helpful to point out that this is normal. Everyone feels uncomfortable sometimes about certain things. Yeah, and then another here we we’ve talked a lot about this one and we’ve probably infused it into plenty of podcasts but spending quality time. So, with our teenagers. It can be really helpful to just spend the time together right? I tell um I have this conversation a lot with parents and. I think sometimes for our teenagers we might have to pair that quality time with something and really like doing so instead of just saying we’re going to have a meeting every Sunday at two and talk about your friends right? instead. Maybe we’re going to say we’re going to go get our nails done every Sunday or two and talk about your friends so it can be really helpful to pair that was something that they enjoy doing but this is a great way to keep that open line of communication and really discuss anything that might be going on in their social life and you’re not judging not judging. You’re just there to support. Yeah and then another one that’s pretty interesting I hadn’t really thought about too much. It can be helpful to set rules about social life together right? So as our children get older. They want to have more privileges they want to do more things, but I think it’s really important to say Okay, well let’s talk about what are those privileges going to be. What are some consequences if we don’t follow through and then similar to what you were saying before about. Well what are some consequences to your social behaviors right? So if you’re late somewhere or you’re posting something online. That’s Inappropriate. So I think just again, kind of opening that line of communication and really having these. Discussions with your kids before they get into some of these situations can be so helpful. Yeah, yeah, and the last one which kind of goes along with this in terms of like just social interactions having that conversation about bullying I think sometimes parents.

Angela: Absolutely yeah.

Kristin: And I do this right? We shy away from topics that we are like no I don’t want to talk about it right? because then it might happen. But it’s like well bullying is really important to discuss bring it to the surface. Even if your trial if you don’t think there is bullying going on so the one in three kids report being bullied from the National Center of Education statistics. So, it’s very important. It’s very prevalent so talk with them about what does it look like and then maybe even saying well have you ever been bullied or maybe are you bullying someone else and maybe they didn’t even realize it so.

Angela: Um, yeah.

Kristin: This is one where we just want to bring it up. Bring it to the forefront. So we have so a little bit of a pulse on it as kids are navigating through their teenage years. Um, right? Yes, exactly.

Angela: Right? Yeah don’t assume that it’s not happening, or your child would never do it. You know? yeah, all right?

Competency of SEL #4: Relationship Building

Angela: Well, we’ve got two more segments to go so we’re gonna we’re gonna get through those we now we’re going to talk about relationship skills for a few minutes and what is that. So that’s our ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with everybody right diverse individuals and groups. Um and well yeah I guess diverse groups right? Ah, a person. It’s not diverse per se. But yes so variety of people and then our ability to communicate clearly listen well cooperate with others maybe resist inappropriate social pressure. It’s also navigating and negotiating conflict constructively and seeking and helping. Ah, seeking an offering to help others when needed. So that’s a lot packed into relationship skills.

Relationship Building for Preschoolers

Angela: So for our preschoolers and what do we have here for some tips couple things to think about setting an example so you’re kind of quote unquote ”playing nicely with other parents.” but you’re interacting with your you’re being mindful of how you’re talking to other people and being um, cooperative overall teaching conversation skills. Sometimes we underestimate the importance of needing to do that explicitly and to really break that down. Um and sometimes kids are not. As Savvy on picking up those things we do have to kind of teach those things maybe more systematically and then teaching conflict Resolution. So If there’s if your child is at risk for maybe jumping in and you know hitting somebody or this happens more often in in Preschool. You know, be right? there. But if not maybe you sit back a little bit you wait and you see how your child handles it you step in when needed and maybe you review later at perhaps bedtime where things are calm and quiet. Sometimes I like to suggest role-playing with stuffed animals. Um some kids don’t like to dive into that or rehash something where they maybe were at fault. Um, but if you use if you kind of separate it a little bit just enough where it’s oh no, we’re talking about fluffy and um snuffy ah the bunnies. You know? Ah, sometimes it’s easier for them to get the message when it’s not about them. Things at home that require teamwork so cooking putting together. Ah you know some furniture that arrived in a box at your front port things like that and then lastly talking about friendships. So what makes a good friend and what does it make a good friend. We talked about this before sometimes it’s ah. Maybe not best practice to say you can’t play with this person anymore and then they go to school and they you know and then it gets messy because then then the other parents are like I heard that you said that my child can play. You know it gets a gets kind of tricky so talking about what makes a good friend and making good choices on who we spend our time with could be more productive and helpful for later in life.

Kristin: Yeah, yeah, exactly those are all so good and you know the first one that you had mentioned I think is I want to go back and highlight that because you know you had mentioned like playing nicely with other parents and you know, kind of an air quotes right? But I think this is so important because we might not think our kids are listening. But if you’re on the phone and you’re just like you know going on and on about your neighbor who’s you know did so and so did this and that right like your kids are listening this. Oh I felt like I just wanted to bring that back up because it’s it I have realized this as a parent not that I go around you know, bad mouthing everyone right? But I have to be very careful of what I’m saying now when around my kids because they will repeat it. So um and not so not you know Elvis so they repeat it but then also you know what are you modeling if you’re if you’re doing that. So yeah, that one’s so important.

Angela: Yeah.

Relationship Building for Elementary Age

Kristin: Okay, so moving through to our elementary kiddos so picking up on your child’s social cues and calling them out. So this one is about you know, pointing out any incongruences between behavior and words and so sometimes kids they.

Angela: So.

Kristin: They aren’t able to pick this up. So maybe we have to be very explicit about it and we might say like you’re saying you’re not mad but your arms are crossed and you’re stomping your feet you know Hm something These don’t line up right? or maybe about a friend. Well you know he said he’s not upset that you took his toy but he’s crying so maybe there’s an incongruency there you know so really helping kids kind of pick up on some of those social cues and then just being aware that sometimes things aren’t as they seem right? So, they might be saying something but their actions are showing differently. Yeah, yeah, and also along with this you know teaching kids that there might be more going on below the surface. So I feel like this kind of goes along with that first one where we say this a lot when it comes to bullying too right? So like we don’t really know what’s going on with that child in particular. So maybe there’s a little bit more that. Going on or things that have led up to certain behaviors and so it’s helpful just to help kids understand that so they can just be more um you know, be able to take someone else’s perspective and foster a good relationship with them.

Angela: Yeah, yeah.

Kristin: And another one you know having play dates and then prepping for it ahead of time. A lot of families. You know we really do have to help kids prep for a play date when it comes to things like conflict resolution and elementary school and you and I have talked a lot about this this is when because you’ve got a couple of there right? So, this is when kids start to. Figure out that um conflict happens and you’re not always going to agree. So, I feel like this would be a really good one to say okay before the play date. How are we going to. You know how are we going to resolve a conflict if it comes up. So yeah I think those could be a few helpful tips for our elementary kiddos.

Angela: Absolutely yeah I love it.

Relationship Building for Teenagers

Angela: All right let’s get it two teens and then we’re gonna we’ve got one more to do I know we got we packed a lot into this one.

Kristin: Yeah, we did we get through it.

Angela: So, talking about first impressions things that are in part important right? So, smiling. How are people receiving you? How do you want people to receive you so being kind of aware of that. Um discussing peer pressure so discussing different scenarios and kind of consequences involved. Maybe even and rehearse with your teens. What to say to peers so they feel more confident going into a situation a social situation down the road. Um also discussing respectful online behavior so you had mentioned earlier cyber bullying also not going along with the crowd. Talk you about screen time and just you know monitoring that and this concept of online friends are not always the same as friends in person. So that’s something to just remind kids of our teens um using interests as a jumping off point for building new relationships with other people that have similar ah interests that that they do so whether it’s sports religious groups. Maybe it’s the Chess Club. It’s special Olympics. Just helping them expand their social network with kids that like to do the same things that they do. That’s one of the easiest ways to make friends and then lastly discuss dos and don’ts about relationships so respect kindness. How do we support one another we can dive into possible dating topics.

Kristin: Yes.

Angela: Um, this came up earlier too but just a reminder don’t get discouraged if they don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to share just letting them know that having the open your or showing them and communicating that the door is open is very important. It definitely sets the stage for when they’re ready to come to you later.

Kristin: Yes, yeah I think that’s so important to just don’t get discouraged. Don’t take it personally and they will come back around right I hear from parents all the time to say like “He did it! He came back around. He’s gonna talk to me again!”

Angela: Yeah totally.

Kristin: So, hang in there with those teenagers and those hormones.

Competency of SEL #5: Responsible Decision Making

Angela: Alright so moving on to our last one here, responsible decision making.

Kristin: Oh, is this one a big one.

Angela: That applies to all age groups and really this is the ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards and safety concerns and really social norms. So it’s the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions. So really actions have consequences and understanding those and then also being able to consider the well-being of themselves and then also of others So like the rest of them. There’s a lot jam-packed into that, but we can certainly start teaching some of these skills with our little ones.

Responsible Decision Making for Preschoolers

Angela: Yeah some ways that we can do that for the preschoolers.

Kristin: Allowing choices. We talk a lot about this. But I think it’s really important for the little ones to start showing them that they can have some agency right? They can have some choice and ah this can really help reduce challenging behaviors which we’ve talked about before. So um, definitely start infusing choice making into your day with your little ones.

Kristin: And then teaching kids Well when can they get help where can they get help I think that’s so important for the younger ones. So if I get lost who do I go to right? if I get a fight with a friend who do I go to so we can start really helping with some of those um actions and consequences starting to teach them just where can they get help and then oh a good one here showing unconditional Love despite poor choices right? So, we all make mistakes. It’s okay, we made mistakes and we have to also understand mistakes are going to happen. That’s. That’s just natural in development so showing unconditional Love either way and then maybe teaching how different rules apply based on context so this kind of goes a little bit more into social awareness too. But maybe showing like okay I have a quiet voice when Mom’s on a conference call. But I can have a loud and cheerful voice and maybe screaming voice when I’m outside playing so again, just kind of breaking it up for kids a little bit and then finally teaching consequences so we talk a lot about actions have consequences and so for our little ones we Want to help them understand that well things like natural consequences happen right? “You didn’t want to wear your jacket. It’s freezing outside you get out there and you’re so cold and that’s a natural consequence.” So I think for our little ones we can start to talk a little bit ah a little bit about consequences and help them understand. How they happen and that they’re there. Yeah oh yes, right? yeah.

Responsible Decision Making for Elementary Age

Angela: Right? Yeah, well that Segway is really nicely into elementary too. So along with that you getting kids involved in decision making right? So, we’re going to the park. “What do you think you should wear what kind of shoes.

Kristin: Um, yes, and sandals don’t wear the sandals.

Angela: Oh we’re going to that that park with all the wood chips. You know so what kind of shoes? Do you think um, right? or go up there and see what the weather is like and you make a choice on whether you should bring a jacket or not um and then you know they will be dealing with the natural consequences right? So that that really helps them start to think about making good decisions and walk with them through how you make decisions.

Kristin: Um, right? yeah.

Kristin: Oh, I love that one yeah.

Angela: Model. Yeah, what is your thought process. What’s the process you go through to make decisions. Especially when those are hard decisions um talking about making amends. So what does that look like if you break someone’s toy. What do we do? Are we writing an apology and what are we buying a new toy with your allowance are we offering to fix it.

Kristin: Right? yeah.

Angela: So those sort of decisions. Um pointing out when your child is making good decisions, So that positive reinforcement say “hey you know what I noticed you made a good choice there um I really you know I wanted you to know I noticed that great job making ah you know a smart decision around that and then even teaching environmental responsibility. How are we making decisions about our earth right? Are we recycling? are we? Yeah, are we picking up our trash and those sort of things. So yeah, that rounds out our elementary age.

Responsible Decision Making for Teenagers

Kristin: Yeah, yeah, so Good. A few others here moving on to our teens just a few more tips for you all and then we’ll round it Out. Um I think this one’s so important for our teens and this one comes up a lot in my parent consultations. But. You don’t always have to stick with the original plan right? You don’t always have to stick with the way that maybe you think it’s best to go if your teen comes to you and has found a different way to do it right? “Oh hey, Mom It’s more efficient for me to do it this way” we might say “Great I Love that you know give it a go.” instead of saying “No actually I find it more efficient this way” right? And you as the parent trying to stick to your guns I think again this shows your teen “Hey oh wow I do value your opinion I’m going to let you do it your way, let’s see how that goes.” So I think that one can be so important a couple others just discussing safe choices for your child’s body really having those open conversations and along with that involving your child in the family decisions This one’s so important for teens right? because they want to be a part of the family they want to be able to make some of those decisions. So, if you’re if you’re you have to move away for your job for example or you have this big vacation plans right? like let’s just bring them into the fold when you’re making these big decisions and that can go a really long way. Yeah, and then just a couple others.

Angela: Absolutely

Kristin: Reinforcing an independent decision making this one. We should just like highlight because you know we say like reinforce the behaviors you want to see continue and I think it’s so important if kids are being independent. They’re being independent thinkers. They’re making good decisions.

Angela: Um, yeah.

Kristin: On their own. Let’s give that a lot right? A lot of praise and a lot of attention and then finally discussing accountability. So what does that mean? how do you hold yourself? accountable? Um, how do we? How do we understand why, and accountability is important. And really and this one we could probably go on all we could probably do a new podcast episode on this one because this one comes up a lot. Um, but we can’t just blame everybody else if something goes wrong right? So, you have to take ownership. You have to hold yourself accountable and so as a team teaching our teens to really do that and what does that look like.

Angela: Absolutely I think that’s a perfect one to end on.

Kristin: Perfect

Emotional Intelligence Questions that Parents Can Ask Themselves

Angela: Yeah, so um, all right? Let’s um, just take just a couple seconds here. Let’s do a recap kind of ping pong style. You know here are a couple reminders to think about so number one “Have I had meaningful conversation and actively listened?”

Kristin: Right.

Angela: And next “Am I modeling appropriate behavior for my kids?” “Am I thinking about the impression that I’m giving others?” “Am I taking the time to consider other people’s perspectives?” and “Am I evaluating my behavior in my relationships?”

Kristin: Yes.

Angela: and “do I follow through and hold myself accountable?” So, a big one there.

Kristin: Yea.

Angela: And yeah “am I taking a minute to reflect on when I’m feeling overwhelmed?” and “do I think about my decisions and the consequences of my behaviors?” and then last question to ask ourselves as parents “Am I allowing my child to make some of their own decisions?” Yeah.

Kristin: Oh, that’s a good one to end on that. One’s so important all right? Well I know we jampacked a lot into that one. Hopefully it was really helpful for all of you. You might have to go back and listen to it a couple times for all those tips in there. But we want to thank you for joining us on our thirty second episode of Behaviorally Speaking on our next episode we will cover special education topics and we will have two guests join in so be sure to tune into that. And until then don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on your favorite platform so you never miss an episode.

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