When Parents Embrace Social Emotional Learning, Kids Feel The Joy Again

Get back in touch with your kids' emotions...

mom with happy daughter getty

What is social-emotional learning and how does it help you bring the joy back, especially during this pandemic?

If you're a parent worrying about your child, you're not alone. The pandemic has hit all of us hard in so many ways: financially, medically, academically, and socially.

Social-emotional concerns are at an all-time high, and parents are struggling and concerned. As a parent of two children, my heart breaks for these kids.


"Where's the fun?!"

"How can this still be going on?"

"Why can’t someone fix it?"

We, parents, hear this from our children and feel helpless. Wouldn’t you gladly "fix" this if it was humanly possible?

Fortunately, there are things you can do as a parent to create joy and help your child or teen stay socially and emotionally centered.

RELATED: 5 Strategies To Riding The Emotional Rollercoaster Of Uncertain Times


Here are 5 ways parents can use social-emotional learning to bring back joy to kids.

1. Walk in their shoes.

Your child or teen needs you more than ever — even if she doesn’t show it. The world has become big and unrecognizable, and without the life experience you have, it can be scary.

Social-emotional concerns are at an all-time high. You have no idea where we are headed either, but your steady presence can help keep your kids' social-emotional boat from tipping.

Take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. It really is a tough time. Whatever means you use — meditation, deep breathing, exercise, or even hiding in a bathroom — try to get your emotions in check.

This balance will enable you to manage your own emotions and allow you to truly empathize with your child or teen.


2. Choose an activity for each day.

What activities can your kids do each day of the month?

Rather than saying, "Hey, why don’t you create those videos you have always wanted to make?," say, "Why don’t we sit down and draft some quirky topics you can make videos of?"

If you think of a new topic every day, it helps your child stay focused and interested when they're feeling down.

If your son loves tennis, maybe he can gently hit a ball against the wall one day. The next day, he can do so with his backhand.

Craft stores are also a great way to bring out the creative right brain in all kids. The point is to build on strengths, develop new interests, and strengthen relationships.


3. Monitor and adapt your tone and banter.

Everyone is at their worst when they're tired, sad, angry, and lonely. Remembering this helps when one family member acts out.

Come up with a word or phrase that everyone recognizes as the "code" for returning to civility. The whole family should try to be more considerate.

Be sure to share with your children what respect looks like and admit it when you struggle. In a non-shaming way, say the "cod" when tempers flare, their tone becomes disrespectful, and actions are rude.

Eventually, you will catch it before you're even told.

RELATED: What Is Emotional Intelligence & How It Affects You

4. Tap into interests and strengths.

It can be easy to get caught in a stage of moping, but this is not a good place to rest. Together, when both of you are in a loving and receptive mood, brainstorms ways to tap into both of your strengths and interests.


You both may have more time on your hands than ever before, so make a pact not to squander it.

Be each other’s mentors and remind each other what you each like and where you can find joy. Maybe you both will actually come out of the pandemic with a new or renewed passion.

5. Stay centered.

Yes, you miss your friends and former activities, too. You don’t have to put on a "brave face" and insist all is OK in the world.

As parents, we are our children’s social and emotional coping models. It's OK to share your disappointment in the lack of holiday festivities. You're human, too.


Together, you can come up with ways that will raise every member of the family’s spirits. Pick out a great tree, shop for a neighbor in need, or decorate cookies that Martha Stewart would be proud to show.

Think of it this way — 2021, for better or worse, is the year to break old, stodgy rules.

The pandemic is tough on every member of the family.

Sharing together ways to overcome the struggle will nurture bonds that will hopefully bring up nice memories down the road on how you all pulled through in one of the worse periods in history.

RELATED: 5 Ways Parents Can Build Emotional Intelligence & Resilience In Kids Right Now

Caroline Maguire, ACCG, PCC, M.Ed. is a personal coach who works with children with ADHD and the families who support them. For more information, visit her website.