“Education is the manifestation of perfection already present in man”– says Swami Vivekananda.
Learning is given supreme importance in our lives. The whole education system is centered on it. It is essential for overall personality development and making us responsible to ourselves as well as towards society as a whole.
Considering the above purpose, what is it that we are focusing on in our educational system? In the urban set up, the focus on education can be broadly classified under:
Academics, Sports and Arts.
But have we ever given any thought to social and emotional learning?
Developmental Psychology teaches us that the highest level of development takes place in the early childhood years. The theories of Child Development unanimously agree upon the importance of early years in determining later happiness and success in life.
According to Daniel Goleman, author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence, ’Family life is our first school for emotional learning’. Parents act as role models on which children base their own behavior. How parents behave with their children and how they behave with each other, determines this learning pattern.
When parents are emotionally competent in their own relationships, they are capable of helping their children work through their emotional challenges. How many times have we found ourselves displacing our anger and frustrations (acquired from other interactions) on our unsuspecting children? How many of us, as parents can say truly that we are not busy in our own pursuits and have time for our children? How many of us truly give importance to our children’s emotions? How many of us, as parents face emotional outburst and temper tantrums from our children?
When parents ignore their child’s feelings, the child learns that his feelings are not important. When parents repeatedly threaten or punish their children for display of emotions, they learn that emotions are dangerous and it needs to be kept hidden inside. This leads to depression and anger in later life.
If we do not teach healthy ways of expressing our emotions to our children – they react with temper tantrums.
So what can we as parents do about it?
Parents can use these difficult and hurtful emotions to explore the nature of those feelings and teach children on how to work with them constructively. They can encourage children to express with statement like “I feel sad..”, “That made me angry” rather than react with emotional outbursts.
School and teachers also have a vital role to play in this process.
Children spend a considerable amount of time in school where the primary emphasis is on learning. Studies have shown that intense emotions make it difficult to focus on the task in hand. There is less reception on the part of learners.
Stress is not uncommon in a child’s life. It emerges from varying situations: arguments, homework, economic hardships, parental arguments, parental divorce and the like. Because of this, both the environment and learning are affected.
If children can learn how to deal with emotions, it will lead to greater strength, wisdom and resilience in their later life.
Therefore parents and school/teachers both have a responsibility to help a child develop these skills.
As with any skills, these social and emotional skills can be learned and mastered.
And what exactly are these skills:
- Self-awareness– Identifying one’s thoughts, feelings and strengths and recognizing how they influence one’s choices and actions
- Social Awareness– Identifying and understanding the thoughts and feelings of others , respecting their rights and appreciating diversity
- Self-Management- Establishing and working toward short and long term goals and handling emotions so that they facilitate rather than interfere with the task at hand
- Responsible Decision Making– Generating, implementing and evaluating positive and informed solutions to problems and assuming responsibility for personal decisions and behaviors
- Relationship Skills– Communication, listening and negotiation skills to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding connections
To be continued…
Watch this space for more.