Building Social & Emotional Intelligence in Children – How to Teach Connection and Civility (by Melissa Benaroya)
In our changing world, teaching children civility is more important than ever. Civility goes beyond being polite and courteous; it involves listening to others with an open mind, disagreeing respectfully, and seeking common ground to start a conversation about differences. By teaching skills like empathy, problem-solving,and perspective taking, we can help nurture civility in our children.
Peer relationships are so important, but they don’t always glisten. Through their relationships – the good and the not so good – children will learn many things. It’s where they’ll start to build their expectations about how the world will receive them, what the world will think of them, whether the world is safe, whether people are safe, and how much power they have. It’s also where they will learn that ‘mean for no reason’ is a thing, that sometimes people do things that don’t make sense, that the people who treat them like rock stars are worth holding onto, and that some people don’t deserve to get anywhere near them.
A child’s anxiety is stressful to the child and can also be stressful for the child’s family. Anxiety can actually be debilitating for kids. Children may spend endless amounts of time and energy fixated on things such as grades, family issues, peer relationships, and performance in sports, as well as disasters they think might happen or dangers that do not actually exist.
All kids have greatness in them, and like any of us, they will all need their own combination of ‘the right things’ to flourish – the right people, the right environment, the right motivation, the right encouragement. The right support will make magic happen. It will light a vibrant, glowing spark that will open the world up to them, and them up to the world.
I’d love to reach out to all the moms out there who maybe didn’t have a mom. Or at least not the kind you’d ever call Mom. You didn’t have a Mom who would put a band-aid on your knee when you fell skating, or maybe you never even got to skate with her. You didn’t have the kind of Mom you could go to when you broke your ceramic candlestick in second grade, or when your friend didn’t invite you to her sleepover party, or when you got your period. She wasn’t there for you – at least not in the way you needed – when you got married, and she certainly wasn’t there for you when the baby came helping teach you how to nurse, doing the extra laundry and getting some groceries.