How can social emotional learning help prevent bullying and other negative behaviors in early childhood?
It is a fact that young children are prone to displays of negative behavior such as bullying, aggression and disobedience. These negative behaviors aren’t picked up from their experience, but rather come from the lack of social and emotional skills. However, social emotional learning (SEL) can help prevent this problem.
SEL is the process of learning how to control emotions, thoughts, and behavior so as to build positive and meaningful relationships, while also achieving personal goals. When introduced to children from an early age, it helps them in understanding their emotions and how to express them appropriately. It also helps in enhancing children’s problem-solving abilities, decision-making, empathy, and prioritization.
In general, there are multiple ways through which SEL can help prevent the negative behaviors like bullying and aggression in early childhood.
Developing Empathy and Compassion in Early Childhood
Through social emotional learning, children are taught to put themselves in other people’s shoes and to have compassion for them. They learn to identify and understand other people’s emotions, thus leading to better communication and relationships. When children develop higher levels of empathy and compassion, it helps in building more honest and positive relationships, thus reducing negative behavior like bullying, aggression and misunderstanding.
Improved Social Competence
Social competence is the set of skills that help in building positive peer relationships, including communication, cooperation, collaboration, and conflict resolution. Specific social behaviors like listening, turn-taking, sharing, and taking turns, can impact interactions during playtime, recess, and learning. When children learn through a social emotional approach, they grasp these social competencies, which helps in preventing negative behaviors in early childhood.
Effective Emotional Regulation
SEL helps children in recognizing and expressing emotions effectively, which is essential in preventing negative behaviors. Significantly, children who have an appropriate level of self-awareness and emotional regulation control have a lower tendency to behave negatively, like aggression or bullying toward other children. Thus, emotional regulation is essential in preventing such negative behavior.
Increased Sense of Responsibility
One of the core concepts of Social emotional Learning is responsible decision-making. Through SEL, children learn how their decisions and choices impact them as well as others. When children learn responsibility, they take responsibility for their actions, which helps in preventing negative behaviors in early childhood, such as bullying and other forms of physical/ verbal abuse.
When children have higher self-esteem and self-awareness, they feel a sense of belongingness, control and significance, which helps in preventing negative behaviors. When children build self-esteem, they feel more connected to their peers, teachers and can easily avoid negative behaviors.
Creating a Positive Culture
SEL offers teachers, parents, and guardians cues when it comes to practices, strategies, and parent-teacher interventions focused on preventing bullying and improving the existing socio-emotional environment. This creates a positive culture, in which the outcomes include respectful interactions, improved communication, more compassion, and accountability.
Social emotional learning is a powerful tool that helps in preventing negative behaviors such as bullying, aggression and disobedience in early childhood. SEL enables children to develop empathy, social competence, emotional regulation, a sense of responsibility, and self-esteem. Thus, it creates a positive culture by building healthy relationships between children and creating a safer and positive environment for them. Schools and families should introduce social emotional learning in the existing curriculum, to help prevent negative behaviors from arising in the children’s developmental years.
We also have another guide where we talk about ‘HOW CAN SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING SUPPORT CHILDREN”S UNDERSTANDING OF PHYSICAL HEALTH AND FITNESS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD?’ .