Take Five

Blog · Jan 09, 2015

Emotion management is one of the core components of social emotional learning skills taught in effective prevention education. Coupled with other social emotional skills, emotion management benefits children both socially and academically.

Dr. Kenneth Barish, a child therapist and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at Cornell University, in the Huffington Post writes, "Children who are able to regulate their emotions pay more attention, work harder, and achieve more in school." And the 2013 Too Good evaluation study showed just that-prevention education that develops social and emotional skill sets, such as emotion management, not only decreases the risk of substance use but also facilitates stronger academic performance.

Research and evidence show the benefits that result from emotion management, but how can we as adult role models cultivate emotion management in children? One way is by lending an empathetic ear. When children feel they are truly being heard, they feel less a sense of urgency and therefore are able to more thoughtfully express themselves. Dr. Barish states that children are less likely to "get stuck in attitudes of blaming, argument and denial." Children are therefore more likely to take responsibility for their actions and behaviors, which prepares them to make thoughtful, rational choices.

We can also heighten children's awareness of their own emotions by teaching them valuable self-assessment tools, such as learning to identify the physical signs of their emotions in addition to the thoughts and experiences associated with them. For example, children attentive to how their heart races, or to the feel of the muscles around the mouth when they are frowning, can use these physical signals as a cue to relax. When children learn to identify these signs in others, they are better able to interpret and ultimately anticipate the emotions of others. Acute social awareness provides the necessary elements to applying empathy. Socially aware children are also better able to positively influence the behaviors of those around them by deflecting conflict or intervening with a solution-based attitude.

Self-aware children are empowered not only to respond to internal and external influences but to bring about positive change in potentially negative situations.  Children who learn to recognize and appreciate the emotions of others develop a greater capacity to build stronger, more supportive relationships.

Emotion management ultimately leads to responsible decision making, effective communication, pro-social bonding, and academic success-an established formula that emboldens children to establish a bright future for themselves.

Social Emotional Learning, Substance Abuse Prevention, Violence Prevention

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