A Parent’s Resource Guide to Social and Emotional Learning
A curated list of articles and videos for parents about fostering skills like kindness, empathy, resilience, perseverance, and focus in children.
Encouraging Kindness and Empathy
- Cultivating Kindness and Compassion in Children (Center for Child and Family Well-Being, University of Washington, 2014)
This summary of a public lecture by Kimberly Schonert-Reichl underscores the importance of promoting social and emotional learning, reviews some of the research about cultivating kindness and compassion in children, and discusses five practical strategies that parents can try. For even more parent tips, read Schonert-Reichl's Kindness Booklet.
- Why It’s Imperative to Teach Empathy to Boys (KQED MindShift, 2014)
Gayle Allen and Deborah Farmer Kris discuss the importance of empathy and the gender stereotypes that may put boys at risk for failing to learn this important skill; the authors describe three strategies that parents of boys can implement.
- Raising Kind Kids (Greater Good Science Center, 2012)
In this brief video from the Greater Good Science Center, University of California, Berkeley, parenting expert Christine Carter offers tips to parents on how to foster kindness and generosity in children.
- Raising Caring, Respectful, and Courageous Children (Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2013)
Richard Weissbourd, co-director of the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, advises parents about raising caring, respectful, and courageous children.
- 2nd-Grader’s Cure for Playground Loneliness: A Buddy Bench (Huffington Post, 2013)
Second-grader Christian Bucks noticed that some of his friends didn’t have anyone to play with at recess. With the support and encouragement of his parents and the help of school administration, he was able to bring an idea called the "Buddy Bench" to fruition. On a related note, check out "The Doorman," a video from the CBC that tells the story of how high school student Josh Yandt brought greater positivity to his school through a simple action.
- Five-Minute Film Festival: Nine Videos on Kindness, Empathy, and Connection (Edutopia, 2013)
VideoAmy compiled this moving playlist of videos to explore the importance of human relationships and the power of being kind, generous, and compassionate.
Cultivating Perseverance and Resilience
- Carol Dweck on the Power of "Yet" (GreatSchools, 2013)
Stanford University professor Carol Dweck, research pioneer on “fixed” versus “growth” mindsets, discusses how a simple change of language can inspire children to think differently about their capabilities. For more about Dweck’s research in this area, check out Maria Popova’s blog post from Brain Pickings entitled "Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives."
- How Do We Help Kids Make Better Choices? Let Them Practice (Edutopia, 2012)
School administrator Matt Levinson stresses that mistakes are a necessary part of learning and suggests that allowing children to navigate challenging situations on their own can help them build frameworks for arriving at more successful outcomes.
- Resources on Developing Resilience, Grit, and Growth Mindset (Edutopia, Updated 2016)
This curated collection of blogs, articles, interviews, and videos includes information for parents and educators about the associated concepts of resilience, grit, and growth mindset.
- Resilience Guide for Parents & Teachers (American Psychological Association)
This guide to helping children develop skills of resilience includes useful tip lists and specific considerations for children of different ages, including those in preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school.
- Tips for Resilience in the Face of Horror (Greater Good, 2013)
Jason March, founding editor-in-chief of Greater Good, describes how educators and parents can help protect children and themselves from the effects of vicarious trauma.
- Talking to Your Children About Tragedy (Bright Horizons, 2013)
In this video, Brendamarie Contreras, director at Bright Horizons, discusses relevant principles parents can consider in relation to young children and personal or family reactions to traumatic events. Though the introduction to the video is focused on Boston, the principles discussed can be applied to a wide variety of situations.
- How Parents Can Foster Gratitude in Kids, by Andrea Hussong (Greater Good, 2014)
In this video excerpt, Andrea Hussong discusses some of the research on gratitude in children, takeaways from study data, and strategies parents can use to raise grateful children. For more tips, be sure to check out "Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids," also from Greater Good.
- Gratitude Builds Character and Health (Edutopia, 2011)
Maurice Elias explains what the research says about gratitude and the benefits for character and health.
- Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude: Tips for Parents (National Association of School Psychologists, 2009)
This downloadable tip list, adapted from work by Karen Reivich, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, and Jeffery Froh, PsyD, Hofstra University, features simple acts and activities that parents can use with children to help them feel and express gratitude.
- 10 Ways to Raise a Grateful Kid (PBS Parents)
Homa Tavangar outlines ten strategies for parents hoping to foster a sense of gratitude in their children.
Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, and Focus
- Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement (Montgomery Township School District, 2014)
Maurice Elias discusses emotional intelligence and emotional learning in schools with parents and community in this video, an excellent primer on the importance of social and emotional learning and emotionally intelligent parenting. Elias has also written a number of blog posts for Edutopia; "Helping Children Become Emotionally Intelligent" is one good place to start.
- Social and Emotional Learning: What is it? How Can We Use it to Help Our Children? (The New York University Child Study Center)
Robin Stern discusses social and emotional learning and emotional intelligence, including tips for parents, educators, and students.
- Educating the Heart: 6 Steps to Build Kindness & Resilience in Children (Dalai Lama Center, 2012)
In this six-part video series, Dan Siegel describes how to use brain-based strategies to foster connection and mindfulness in order to build kindness and resilience in children.
- Mindful Parenting (Greater Good Science Center, 2013)
One way to teach children mindfulness is to model it. Parenting expert Christine Carter discusses how parents can bring mindful awareness to everyday situations. You may also want to check out Carter’s video on a simple strategy for teaching meditation to children: "Meditating with Kids."
- Age of Distraction: Why It’s Critical for Students to Learn to Focus (KQED’s MindShift, 2013)
Katrina Schwartz shares insights from Dan Goleman on how to help children manage digital distraction and build the neural circuitry that focused attention requires.
- Daniel Goleman: Parents Teach Focus (Edutopia, 2013)
Best-selling author and social-emotional learning expert Daniel Goleman explains how parents naturally teach their children how to focus and manage emotions. Also, check out the other videos in this series: "Daniel Goleman on the Importance of Cultivating Focus."
Home, School, and Community Partnerships
- Parent Partnership in Education: Resource Roundup (Edutopia, 2014)
We've compiled a list of articles, videos, and other resources to help parents engage productively with teachers and school.
- Creating a Safe and Caring Home (National School Climate Center)
The National School Climate Center has created guidelines for parents on creating safe and caring homes, preventing bullying, strategies to promote collaboration among adults, and community activities.
- Making Your Child’s School Safe and Supportive (GreatSchools, 2013)
Parents are powerful forces for change in schools. In this article, Suzanne Bouffard and Richard Weissbourd discuss how parents can influence how kids are treated -- and how students treat each other -- at school.
- Teach Social-Emotional Learning for Better Schools, Safer Neighborhoods (Edutopia, 2013)
Laura Rabb Morgan, Founder of South Chicago Block Club Coalition SEL Grassroots Movement, talks about her awakening to the need for social-emotional learning in her neighborhood.
- Bully Prevention: Why We Desperately Need to Invest in Home-School Partnerships (Edutopia, 2012)
Joe Mazza discusses the importance of parent-teacher partnerships to help students work through challenges and prevent bullying in schools.
- How Parents and Schools Can Help Build Kids’ Emotional Strength (KQED’s MindShift, 2012)
Principal Matt Levinson discusses some ideas for strengthening the relationship between schools and parents in order to help children work through social and emotional challenges during the pre-teen and teen years.
Children’s Social Selves and Technology
- Technology at Home: Developing the Social Self (Edutopia, 2013)
Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff encourages parents of tweens to let their children's social selves develop through reasonable limits on their digital access.
- The Digital Lives of Teens: The Internet Never Takes a Rest (Edutopia, 2013)
Matt Levinson looks at the ubiquitous nature of social media and its impact on the lives and identities of teens. For more on how parents can help support appropriate technology use, also read Levinson's "Why We Want Kids to Have Smartphones."
- Video Game Creators Are Using Apps to Teach Empathy (NPR, 2013)
In this podcast for All Things Considered, Steve Hehn reports on how some video game creators are using gaming technology to strengthen children’s social and emotional skills.
- Design Thinking - Invisible Hearts Project (the ASIDE blog, 2011)
A group of Australian students decided to confront cyberbullying at their schools; the Invisible Hearts Project was the result of this collaboration. Using a combination of empathy and design thinking, the students used technology and social media in a positive manner to raise awareness and promote peace, equality, and love.
These two tips lists are also good references for parents:
- Preventing Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Parents (Cyberbullying Research Center, 2014)
- 18 Tips to Stop Cyberbullying (Parents, 2010)
- Playing Nicely With Others: Why Schools Teach Social and Emotional Learning (The New York Times, 2014)
In this article for parents, Jessica Lahey outlines the reasons why increasing amounts of school resources are being devoted to social and emotional learning and goes over the benefits for children.
- The Children We Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values (Making Caring Common Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2014)
This report, based in part on a survey of 10,000 middle and high school students, takes a hard look at the messages adults give to children about caring for others, happiness, and achievement and provides guidelines to help shift the balance. Visit the website for the Making Caring Common Project to find additional "Strategies & Tips" for parents and caretakers.
- Confident Parents Confident Kids (Jennifer Miller)
Parent Jennifer Miller writes a regular blog for parents on how to support social and emotional development in children.
- Why Parents Should Apologize When They Lose Their Cool (NBC Parent Toolkit, 2014)
In this article for the NBC Parent Toolkit, Maurice Elias describes the elements that contribute to an effective parental apology and what this teaches children. Find more information about how to support your child’s social and emotional development by visiting other sections of the Parent Guide.
- Parenting Coach (Understood.org)
In Parenting Coach, on the website for Understood, parents can browse expert practical advice targeting social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that affect children of all ages.