After countless hours of reviewing research studies and combining my own experience as a child and family therapist, I identified 15 definitive social and emotional skills that are important for children to develop.
All 15 skills are tied to children’s predictability on experiencing success in academics, social relationships and overall life satisfaction. In addition, most of the skills are related to the trendy concepts of grit, growth mindset and resiliency.
But what’s most important, is that all the skills can be developed and cultivated over time; and are essential to enabling a child to navigate through life’s wonders and challenges and maximize their sense of fulfillment.
I applied CASEL‘s domains (since they are the most credible organization on promoting social and emotional learning) as a foundational basis to organize the skills into 5 simple domains of: Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness, Relationships Skills and Responsible Decision-Making.
Self Awareness Domain
The Self Awareness domain is a child’s ability to accurately recognize their own emotions, thoughts and values which allows them to be more conscious of their actions and behaviors. This is important because when a child is more aware of themselves both internally and externally, they are better able to navigate life challenges and make appropriate decisions.
1. Identify and be aware of own feelings and emotions
The ability to identify and be aware of their internal feelings and emotions during and after a situation. Feelings and emotions are generally indicators, and when a child is able to identify them, they can use this information on how to appropriately respond and react.
2. Identify own strengths and limitations
The ability to understand the degree of their own skills, abilities and talents. This skill provides a child a more accurate sense of how they can approach goals, tasks and challenges.
3. Identify own beliefs and values
Beliefs and values cultivated over time is a child’s internal compass. A child’s understanding of their internal compass provides them guidance them on how to feel, respond, act and make decisions.
4. Self confidence
Self confidence is the belief in one’s ability to organize and execute actions to succeed in a particular situation. This allows a child to perform at their potential, accept challenges and manage setbacks.
Self Management Domain
The Self Management Domain is a child’s ability to successfully regulate their own emotions, thoughts and behaviors in different situations. This enables a child to manage stress, control impulses, set goals and motivate themselves. Self Management are essential life skills that impacts how a child engages with their academics, interests and social relationships.
5. Manage impulses and delay gratification
The ability to manage impulses and delay gratification are fundamental to self-discipline. The ability to adequately manage impulses allows a child to decide, act and behave more appropriately. And the ability to delay gratification when appropriate allows a child to set and achieve goals.
6. Sustain attention and focus
The ability to sustain adequate attention and focus on tasks, in thinking and social situations. A child’s age-appropriate attention and focus abilities allows them to think clearly, and increase likelihood to complete tasks and responsibilities.
7. Goal Setting
The ability to think and plan ahead to set goals for both their own and social wants/needs. Goals can be short-, mid- or long-term.
8. Emotional Regulation
The ability to tolerate and manage uncomfortable feelings that may arise during challenges and difficult situations. When a child is able to manage uncomfortable feelings (e.g. frustration, anxiety, fear, grief) when appropriate, this will better equip them to navigate and overcome challenges.
Social Awareness Domain
Social Awareness Domain is a child’s ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others.
9. Empathy for others
The ability to understand other’s thoughts, feelings and point of view. Empathy is both an emotional and cognitive experience meaning it is being able to “feel with” a person through imagination. Having the capacity of empathy enables a child to respond appropriately to and connect with situations and others.
10. Respect for others
The ability to treat others kindly from the act of acknowledging their feelings, beliefs and actions. Respect is generally shown through a child’s thoughts and action to those they have positive regard for and those they have differences or disagreements with. Respect for others is foundational to building and maintaining positive relationships.
Relationship Skills Domain
The Relationship Skills Domain is a child’s ability to establish and maintain healthy and meaningful relationships with individuals and groups. Specific skills include the ability to communicate clearly, listen well, collaborate with others, resolve conflicts, resist inappropriate social pressures and seek and offer help when needed.
11. Listening Skills
The ability to accurately understand and interpret what others are verbally and non-verbally communicating. Being able to listen well decreases misunderstanding and lead to effective communication. This is an essential skill/foundational skill to be able to collaborate, resolve conflict and assert self.
12. Collaboration Skills
The ability to work with others to achieve common goals. Collaboration skills include planning, negotiation and agreeing with each others but most importantly, it also requires respect and trust. The ability to collaborate is an essential life skill that will enable a child to succeed in social and classroom settings.
13. Conflict Resolution Skills
The ability to overcome and resolve conflict with others. Conflict resolutions skills include being able to negotiate, compromise, and assert self while being able to be aware of own emotions, have empathy and actively listen to others. Since is it normal and common for conflicts to arise, developing conflict resolution skills will enable a child to navigate and grow from some of the most difficult challenges in life.
Responsible Decision Making
The Responsible Decision Making Domain are skills that result from interaction of skills in Self Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Skills domains. This domain includes the child’s ability to make constructive choices about their personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms and consequences.
14. Problem Solving
The ability to identify, analyze situations and apply solutions to problems. A child’s problem solving skills include being able to identify repeating problems in their lives, think of different solutions, evaluate pros and cons of solutions and apply solutions.
15. Responsible Decision Making
The ability to make constructive choices about their personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms and consequences.
Play Attune is about providing parents and professionals practical play activities and resources focused on enhancing children’s social and emotional wellness. Behind every content we share is the belief that children learn valuable life skills through meaningful relationships and experiences.
Play Attune is created by William, a child and family psychotherapist with extensive experience working with families in various settings. We recently launched in the summer of 2018 and we invite you to join us on learning more and contributing to shape our content!