Best activities to promote social and emotional development
Developing one’s social and emotional skills is extremely important in the period between early childhood and young adulthood. By learning proper behavior in society, children will create a solid foundation for successfully facing all life’s challenges. To achieve that goal, various social-emotional learning activities are carried out.
Children begin to discover life skills as infants, when they are introduced to behavioral patterns that will be further improved over time. The social-emotional development of children should begin from an early age, and the early years are crucial in this process, because this is when the foundations that help children to cope with social situations in the right way are laid through learning activities.
Great activities for social and emotional development
Each stage of growing up brings emotional development that shapes the child into an adult who is prepared for serious challenges in life. Children best adopt new patterns of behavior through joint activities where each individual is expected to contribute to the project.
Examples of joint activities in high school include science projects or team sports, because they help children to gain self-confidence, teach them teamwork, and help develop emotional bonds and friendships. It goes without saying that an early learning setting is crucial, because children pick up basic social skills through play.
Some of the best activities to promote social and emotional development will be presented below. These activities are useful for all ages, except that more complex ones are suitable for older children.
Playing games with clearly defined rules
Regardless of age, children learn social skills and develop emotional intelligence most effectively through play. Through interaction with other children, they encounter situations which demand reaching a compromise, controlling one’s emotions, and making the best decision to resolve conflicts.
All this can be achieved by playing games with clearly defined rules, because restrictions force children to find alternative ways to a solution. These games do not have to be sports activities, or even competitive activities. It suffices to define some restrictions that have to be observed (time limit, following orders, coordinating activities with other children, etc.).
This is how children learn to be part of a group, to understand that others have desires and needs of their own, and to reach a compromise by communicating with others.This is how they develop relationship skills, show empathy and encourage kindness. The older the children, the more complex the games will become, and the greater the challenges (e.g. feelings of injustice, defeat, and controlling one’s impulsive reactions). However, the basics remain the same – facing one’s emotions and developing positive patterns of behavior.
Children often fail to understand that their actions affect others. Many things can be learned through role playing, because by playing someone else, children learn to communicate with others, and gain insight into the attitudes of other people. Through role play, they learn to understand other people’s needs and how to behave in particular situations.
This kind of play allows children to relive their life experiences, try new things, and learn how to behave in particular situations. Playing can provoke various emotions, especially when children immerse themselves into the role, and get emotionally invested. This often triggers conflict situations that represent valuable life lessons.
If a conflict emerges, children should be given the chance to resolve it on their own through conversation. Role playing games are very imaginative, because they enable children to create a world of their own together, to make rules, and assign roles and responsibilities which is good for social and emotional development, because it prepares them for the challenges of adulthood.
Free play is equally important for children’s development as understanding the rules and restrictions. In this case, children are given the freedom to organize the play themselves, without any particular rules. Unstructured play allows children to define their own relationships and ways of communication. Although it may seem like anarchy, children will eventually establish rules of their own, communicate, and work together toward a common goal.
Social skills truly emerge here, because it is important to listen to what others have to say, accept the proposals of others, and try to “sell” one’s own ideas. In unstructured play, problem solving is very important, because the best solution is reached through joint effort.
Facing one’s emotions and social norms
What are the best activities to promote social and emotional development? Every child is unique, possessing a complex set of emotions and particular needs. Understanding them, but also recognizing challenging behaviors can greatly help the child’s development, and parents play the most important role here, as someone children look up to the most.
Adults are the role models for their children, who imitate their patterns or behavior, and try to implement them on their own. Therefore, it is up to parents to influence the social and emotional development of their child in cooperation with teachers and experts. If the child knows it is okay to show love, express their feelings and face them squarely (making mistakes in the process), they will be much more confident in themselves and their abilities. Children who grow up with this kind of support are more communicative, easily master their school responsibilities, and generally get on better in life.