3 Ways to Build Grownup Social-Emotional Growth

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) for children has been a huge focus in early childhood development over the past 10 years, but what about “Grownup Social-Emotional Growth?” It turns out, it’s just as critical for parents and caregivers to fill this specific brain bucket on a daily basis.

Not to be confused with a fancy face mask or a day at the beach, The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines SEL as “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”  

And while it can be hard to focus with little ones around, it’s important to recognize that parents and caregivers shouldn’t put social-emotional growth on hold for alone time.

Here are three ways you can boost grownup social-emotional growth when you’re WITH children.

Sing throughout the day.

Research tells us that singing can reduce stress and improve overall mood. What better time to sing than when you’re faced with sometimes tricky transitions (like naptime) or stressful moments of getting out the door?

A mom sings to her baby while buckling him in the carseat, which is a great way to reduce stress and build grownup social-emotional growth.
Singing in stressful moments, like getting your family out the door, can help regulate everyone’s emotions.

For example…can’t find your car keys? Try this (to the tune of “Where Has My Little Dog Gone?”):

“Oh where oh where have my car keys gone?

Oh where oh where could they be?

Putting that frustration to music helps you stay focused, brings levity for little ones (who might think it’s the perfect treasure hunt), and keeps everyone calm.

Choose activities YOU actually like.

Families are flooded with early childhood development activities on every social platform out there. They’re great resources, but please note: you don’t have to facilitate activities you loathe.

If don’t like crafting, go on a nature walk in your favorite park. If you’d rather not pull out the painting smocks, try an impromptu dance party with your favorite songs!

A dad dances with his kids at home. Sometimes, playing your favorite songs when your with your children is an easy way to keep parental social-emotional growth in check.

Incorporating your favorite things into daily activities isn’t selfish. It gives you comfort while expanding their worlds.

Find a family class that helps YOU grow.

There are so many grownup-and-me classes out there. Find something that piques your family’s interest and then dig into the reviews.

A mom gets one-on-one time with a Kindermusik educator. Intentional guidance and praise from a professional is critical to grownup social-emotional growth.

Here’s what to look for:

  • An educator that builds up your confidence. Yes, raising a child is a learning process whether it’s your first or your fifth, and you need encouragement to learn and keep going!
  • Practical athome developmental strategies. No one knows your child like you do, but an educator should help you create developmentally appropriate activity ideas for continued learning.
  • Praise. You’re taking the time to do something beneficial for your family. You’re showing up. When I’m instructing a Kindermusik class, I always make a point to praise grownups for their modifications and how they interact with their child(ren).
  • Community. A family class should be a safe space where you can shake off stress and connect with other grownups who are also on child-raising journeys. They get it, and giving and receiving empathy (not sympathy) is a HUGE part of social-emotional growth.

Prioritize grownup social-emotional growth ANYtime.

“Me time” is important, but when it’s not quite in reach, singing, facilitating activities that bring you joy, and finding a welcoming family-friendly class can help you fill your cup. After all, if your cup is empty, you can’t fill anyone else’s up.

This post was written in collaboration with Cara Vernal, Kindermusik Accredited Educator and owner of Valley Little Melodies in Canfield, Ohio.

Ready to enhance your social-emotional growth in a positive, supportive environment? Find a class near you !