Importance of Socio-Emotional Learning in Covid Times: Astha Mahajan, Counselling Psychologist, Senior School Counsellor at DPS Mathura Road School

Astha Mahajan, is a Counselling Psychologist, she has done her M.A in Psychology and B.Ed. She has an experience of more than 12 years in education counselling. Currently she is a Senior School Counsellor at DPS Mathura Road.

Why is it important to emphasize on Socio-Emotional Learning in all individuals today?

Let me answer this by asking another question to you all. Why do you think there is so much of scarcity of oxygen, medicine, beds in our country today? We always knew we are a largely populated country going through this pandemic from much earlier. But why weren’t we prepared? It is because most of us never thought about how we will deal with it collectively in spite of being a country with a collectivist culture. We actually never planned for it collectively rather debated individually and were left to meet our individual needs in our own individual ways. Whereas some of the developed countries ironically who have individualistic cultures worked collectively and planned for the worst to come. Now, this is where socio-emotional learning of all beings plays an important role. We are not here to blame anyone but learn from others actions, thoughts and behaviours at the same time feel others emotions to comfort them and act upon the same in regard to helping others and self to cope with such difficult times. 

What is Socio-emotional Learning?

In simple words it is learning to manage one’s emotions and socialize to help others manage their emotions better.  It is to realize that our thoughts, emotions and behaviour (actions) affect others and so does others thoughts, emotions and behaviour affect us since humans have always been social animals living in a social context

When does the process of socio-emotional learning start? Or is it important to impart socio-emotional learning early in an individual’s life? 

Yes absolutely, the minute the new born starts socializing the socio-emotional learning process begins too rather it is an interwoven process in the development of every child. If this process doesn’t take place or remains neglected the child may turn into a bully later in life or develop personality and other mental health issues. Until we learn to empathize we may become uncaring, unloving, self-centred individuals who eventually become lonely and depressed in life. 

What does Socio-emotional Learning do? Or what is the role of socio-emotional learning in development or shaping of individual personality?

Socio-emotional learning definitely plays a very important role in our lives. It teaches us to not just care or think about oneself but also to care and think about others. 

Some of the benefits of the same are

It helps us take appropriate decisions by recognize our own need and others needs at the same time.

It enhances our self-awareness, self-management, emotional intelligence and coping skills.

A socially and emotionally intelligent person is always able to manage his/her relationships better because it increases the level of understanding of others actions and emotions. 

It helps one communicate effectively without hurting others feelings or showing disregard to others opinions. 

How can parents identify socio emotional needs of children and deal with them?

If your child often gets into conflict, has a stubborn attitude and not in the habit of taking ‘No’ for anything it means your child lacks socio emotional learning.  Learning to accept others point of differences is very important. In other words knowing why everything can’t go according to our wishes or demands in life. This increases the level of resilience and tolerance when life doesn’t go as planned.  Children are often told to care and share but what they are not told is if we don’t share or care for others then we might land up lonely and may not be able to make healthy relationships and friendships that will last longer.

How can we create socio-emotional learning environment or impart socio-emotional learning in young children?

1. Understanding Emotions BetterI often ask children in my class – How many of you cried while watching a movie ‘Lion King’ when ‘Simba’ the main character lost his dad? Or In ‘Taare Zameen Par’ when Ishan is forced to go to a boarding school and misses his mother there? Most of us cry in spite of knowing that it’s just a movie and they are just characters playing their role. It is because we empathize with their situation. When we recognize and feel others pain as ours we learn to empathize. That is when and from where socio-emotional learning begins.
2. Managing Emotions:  Managing or learning to cope with emotions is equally important. For this one must indulge in ‘POSITIVE SELF-TALK’. This needs to be practiced regularly as we are often bombarded with all the negativity from outside we must internalize positivity. This helps us to remain positive even in a negative situation. 
3. Lastly, Agreeing to Disagree: Everyone has some perspective in their points of opinion which is rarely valued or seen. It’s ok to have difference of opinions but what is more important is learning to respect to those differences and this should be emphasized in the growing up years or early years of every child’s life. Let children share their opinions on random topic and have others agree or disagree and state their reasons for the same. This way they will learn that there are different people who think differently but can work together collectively on a given task and more efficiently for betterment of self, their community and societies at large.

To conclude, if we know all our Why’s we won’t fail to know our ‘How – 

Socio-emotional Learning programme promotes collectivism, resilience and empathetic understanding for better problem solving abilities in individuals of any given organization or community to come together on one platform and work towards facing any given challenges. It can also save students from becoming frustrated confused and isolated especially in times now. 

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