It saddens me to hear so many news reports of young people who cause tragedies to themselves and other families through acts of violence. Youths with out-of-control emotions are evident in the rising incidents of school violence, bullying and teen suicide just to name a few of the problems facing children today.
Many people are trying diverse ways of helping people learn to control their emotions so as to prevent future tragedies. One way is that thousands of schools across the United States are considering adding Social Emotion Learning (S.E.L.) to their curriculum. The goal of S.E.L. is to “instill a deep psychological intelligence that will help children regulate their emotions.”
We can’t expect children to know how they’re supposed to react to situations inherently. Starting back as far as the 1980’s researchers have been studying whether “emotional intelligence” over “academic intelligence” is a greater indicator of how well a child succeeds in life. Evidence is pointing to the truthfulness that emotions outweigh academics. In fact, Maurice Elias, a psychology professor at Rutgers University and director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab calls emotional learning “the missing piece in American education.”
A recent article in the New York Times, “Can Emotional Intelligence be Taught?” explores some of the pros and cons of this approach. It gives examples of teachers who are implementing Social Emotional Learning into their classes with mixed results.
To properly act on our emotions takes practice because you first have to master 3 steps:
1) feeling your feelings, 2) interpreting your feelings correctly, and 3) act upon the feeling information. Children need guidance in order to master these steps.
The best example your children can have for proper emotional responses is from you, the parents who love them best. But this can become very difficult when your partner has Asperger’s Syndrome and doesn’t know to read emotional indicators for him or herself, let alone be able to teach it to your children. Are you in this situation and would like some insightful help? I’m soon going to be releasing a new book with help for this specific situation, outlining how to make your life more manageable and enjoyable. It’s called Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome. If you’d like a sneak preview, you can download a chapter and start reading now.