Why We Need Social Emotional Learning Now More Than Ever

The Importance of Character, Integrity and Happiness

With the hope vaccines bring, we must now pull ourselves out from our cozy nests, pods and intimate social bubbles. We need to not only make new friends but also to repair what has been damaged during the pandemic.

Most of us agree that it is more important for a child to develop good character, integrity, and find happiness than it is to get good grades, a good job, or to be accepted into a good college.

Teachers agree and hold themselves accountable to guiding students to build confidence, help others and apply classroom learning outside the school. But parents need education and support to know how – how to help children learn social emotional skills.

Social Emotional LearningConnecting School to the Real World

Students themselves want more social-emotional and service-learning opportunities in school. In a survey of students* who chose to drop out of school, the leading reason was that they did not see the relevance of school to real life.

Parents, teachers, and students are seeking opportunities to link learning to life. If anything has been learned from the pandemic it is that schools and homes need to prioritize such efforts. The next generation of parents and leaders must create a learning structure that includes knowledge, empathy, resilience, appreciation of diversity, and civic dispositions to innovate through times of crisis.

Social Emotional Learning Today in Schools

Fewer than 1 in 4 teachers report SEL is implemented in their school.  The path forward is clear, states need SEL implementation on a programmatic, schoolwide and districtwide basis. In addition, both SEL and service learning must be integrated into workforce development systems in order to match our students to employers needs.

Now is The Time for Reflection and Resetting

The pandemic has changed the way we see the world, now and in the future. Our children will be dictating how society, economy and democracy evolves. The skills that are built today will be the ones employed and taught to the following generation.

How To SEL provides the resources for full district-wide SEL implementation.

Social Emotional Learning

Dive Deeper:

Read more about social skills

How to really understand what’s going on in social settings

7 Ways to Help Your Kid’s Rusty Social Skills Now That the Pandemic Is Winding Down

The Impact of COVID on Social Emotional Skills

Rusty Social SkillsNo one can dismiss the impact rusty social skills has had on all of us, especially our children. Calling it a missed year is an understatement. How can we expect our child to assimilate into hybrid or in-person learning when they haven’t been practicing their social skills?

What about the child who was shy, introverted or lonely before COVID? Will life be better or worse for them?  One year of over-indulgence in screens and rusty social skills and now we are to sit back and expect life to be great for them?

Social and Emotional Needs Must be Addressed

Of course academics are critical. Yet we shortchange our children when we discount the importance of social connection. The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that kids need to return to in-person school this fall. They recognize the seriousness of COVID and the importance of physical safety, yet, they also recognized the essential value of emotional safety when evaluating overall school safety. Relationship with peers and adults are invaluable especially for preschool-age children who are learning how to share and play with other kids. Kids get a lot of value out of their personal interactions with other kids and it’s a key part of growing up at every age level.

7 Ways to Help Your Kid’s Rusty Social Skills Over the Summer

As with any other skill, if not practiced and used, social skills become rusty. Younger children need to play to build reciprocal relationships and teens need to “chill” together. Being with peers, trying things out, practicing, adapting and trying again is a key aspect of social learning.

  1. Play games – Games are an incredibly useful and easy way to teach academic skills as well as social development opportunities. For younger children, model taking turns and how to handle losing. For older children, help them consider the feelings of others and talk about how to pick out a game someone else might like to play.
  2. Go on a hike –Help children explore their inner thinking while exploring the outdoors. What do they hear? Taking the time to truly listen will improve their ability to pause and hear what others say. Build empathy skills by discussing their thoughts and feelings. Why are they feeling that way? What can they do to make it better?
  3. Reconnect with friends before school – Many kids will have gotten both vaccines, so enjoying time with friends will be easier. A few playdates with friends your child knows, socially-distanced if required, will provide comfort to an anxious child.
  4. Read a book together – Find a book about a social dilemma and discuss the story together. Why was the main character angry, or sad? What happened that made that character react in a bad way?
  5. Create a back-to-school plan with your child – If Uncertainty can lead to anxiety. Prepare your child before the return to school on the expectations of masks, social distancing, lunch, recess etc might look like. Depending on the age of your child, a big change can cause some anxiety that they may not know how to manage. Ask them what their concerns are and what they are most looking forward to when the new school year begins.
  6. Create a visual calendar. Help your child understand when he will be returning to school. Create a calendar with photos from last year showing the fun he had with teachers and classmates. Maybe there was a field trip or class party picture you can include to show how much fun was had at school.
  7. Empathize and validate feelings before trying to fix them. It is so important for our children feel like they are being heard. There is a lot of pressure on them right now—the need to keep up with academics, fit in socially, and some may be even be working through their feelings and fear of losing a family member to COVID. Your child may not know they best way to express their worries. If she shows resistance to returning to school, acknowledge and empathize with her feelings before jumping in to reassure him that everything will be fine.

Social Interactions are Critical at All Ages of Development.

After a year of remote learning and limited engagements for our children, they are struggling. Taking part in just a few activities a week can really support their social growth and get them feeling more comfortable, and socially ready to join the classroom in-person this fall.

DO This At Home!

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me? and How to SEL

Deeper Dive:

How to Transition Back to Social Environments

Sensitive Due to COVID?

Introducing “How To SEL” – Everyday Child and Family Social Emotional Coaching

Joint Venture By leading SEL experts Caroline Maguire, M. Ed., and Scarlett Lewis

Social Emotional LearningNewtown, CT (April 12, 2021) – The Choose Love Movement, a non-profit SEL organization, in partnership with Caroline Maguire, parenting and SEL expert, announced today the release of How To SEL, an innovative essential life skills coaching subscription designed to make social emotional learning (SEL) skills easy to learn and implement for everyone, every day.

How To SEL, released in time to help address the very real possibility of a secondary social emotional trauma wave, offers desperately-needed SEL support to both children and adults who have been impacted by the pandemic and increased racial inequity. With an affordable entry point at $19.99 a month, this professionally-developed ‘how-to’ instructional video coaching, with engaging activities, and a live monthly Q&A with SEL experts, is intentionally designed to be accessible to all. All proceeds benefit Choose Love For Schools, a free SEL program for educators.

Harvard University researchers have found that about two-thirds of children ages 7 to 15 had clinically significant symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the same number had behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and inattention, between November 2020 and January 2021. That is a huge jump from the 30% with anxiety and depression symptoms and the 20% with behavioral problems before the pandemic. *

Parents, caregivers, professionals and community advocates can learn how to easily incorporate SEL strategies into their daily lives at home, school, or even in the community. This one-of-a-kind coaching series delivers engaging professional coaching techniques with demonstrations of actual scenarios with children that anyone can quickly pick up and use in real life situations. Each month will feature a carefully-curated life skills theme and include a variety of different formats to accommodate different learning preferences and resources to reinforce the lessons.

Social Emotional LearningEach How To SEL monthly offering shares one mission – to teach HOW TO empower the whole child. Parents and teachers can now explain – and demonstrate – in a way that enables children to understand what is happening in their bodies and minds. Children will learn how to develop and nurture friendships, engage in successful social interactions, and build self-control, empathy and sound decision-making skills.

Everyone who subscribes will receive a welcome kit containing two books – Why Will No One Play with Me? by Caroline Maguire, and Nurturing Healing Love by Scarlett Lewis – plus a Choose Love journal, a Spy Kit, and an assortment of merchandise for kids that coincide with the lessons.

Additionally, subscribers receive a personalized online dashboard to access Caroline’s demonstration videos, a LIVE monthly Q&A where subscribers can interact with Caroline and Scarlett, plus additional resources for further topic exploration.

Annual subscribers will receive a monthly pre-recorded master class with Scarlett Lewis plus leading health and wellness experts that focus on a parent or teacher’s mental health needs.

“Coping with your emotions is an essential life skill, and we created a go-to resource that empowers every parent to cultivate this skill in their children on a daily basis,” said Maguire, co-founder of How To SEL, parenting expert and author.

“Parents were always asking HOW to model and teach social and emotional character development to kids. We wanted to create an easy way for them to learn these transformative skills and strategies with others in their life, and be strengthened by them as well,” added Lewis, co-founder of How To SEL and the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement.

Social emotional learning skills are a critical component of a fulfilling life. The benefits of SEL include greater success in school and stronger relationship bonds to peers, partners, and colleagues. SEL is proven to create increased happiness, self-esteem, and empathy; better academic performance; lower anxiety and depression; and improved immune systems.

All proceeds from How To SEL will benefit the Choose Love Movement to help fulfill its mission to provide free SEL programs to schools, homes and communities.

For more information, please visit www.HowToSEL.com.

*WSJ 4/9/21


About Caroline Maguire, M.Ed., ACCG, PCC

Caroline earned her undergraduate degree at Trinity College and her Masters of Education and Early Childhood Development with a specialization in social emotional learning (SEL) at Lesley University. Caroline is the author of the award winning book, Why Will No One Play With Me?, a playbook of foolproof scripts on social skills development.

She is the founder of a comprehensive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) training methodology for adults, parents, clinicians and academic professionals on how to cultivate emotional regulation, emotional intelligence, social-awareness and responsible decision-making skills. She is the founder and director of The Fundamentals of ADHD Coaching for Families training curriculum at ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) – the only Coach Training program accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

After several years as a highly respected social skills clinician at the Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest, Ms. Maguire formed her own private practice. She is a sought-after lecturer and workshop facilitator on various topics related to social, emotional and behavioral learning. She is a permanent columnist on social skills in ATTitude Magazine, a favored contributor to U.S. News & World Report, Mind Body Green, Salon, Huffington Post, Today Parenting, ADDitude, Attention Magazine and WebMD. Follow her @AuthorCarolineM.


About The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement

Jesse Lewis, a six-year-old first grader, was a victim of the Sandy Hook tragedy whose action saved the lives of nine classmates. Jesse left behind a message on a household chalkboard, “Nurturing Healing Love,” that became the inspiration for his mother, Scarlett, to found the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement.

The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a commitment to reach students, educators, and individuals, nationally and internationally, and provide them with a simple, yet profound formula for choosing love. The Choose Love Programs are comprehensive, no cost, lifespan, next-generation social and emotional learning and character development programs. They teach children and adults how to choose love in any circumstance and help them become connected, resilient, and empowered individuals. These skills, tools, and attitudes have been proven through decades of scientific research to be the best way to ensure a healthy, meaningful, and purpose-filled life.

Its signature program, Choose Love For Schools™, is a no-cost infant/toddler through 12th grade curriculum that contains the simple universal teachings of courage, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion-in-action – the foundational concepts of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Choose Love For Home™, Choose Love For Communities™, and Choose Love For Athletics™ are also available.

For more information, please visit www.ChooseLoveMovement.org. Also visit on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.


Jan Wilmot
Director of Marketing and PR
Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement
jan @ jesselewischooselove.org



How To Help Shy Children Step Outside Comfort Zone

How Can I Help My Shy Child Make New Friends?

My child says it is too hard to play with new kids.  Aren’t we supposed to step outside our comfort zone? 

The first thing I suggest is to ask your child what makes this hard? Why does she avoid trying new things and joining in? The beauty of asking questions is that it allows the child to identify – for themselves – why this is the case and what lies outside their comfort zone. Your child may truly not know what to do or how to  join in.

Identify Something Each of You Can Work On

Make a pact with your child to each step outside your comfort zones and try something new.  Work on something hard for you and your child will work on this. Let her pick any activity, group or sport that she can just show up to. Introduce the concept of the comfort zone tool.

We all know how it feels to tackle something outside our comfort zone—all the more when it’s something hard for us.  (Read more about Comfort Zone on pages 147-149 in Why Will No One Play With Me?)

Comfort Zone

This exercise is a low-stress way to engage the child who is struggling to keep an open mind or start the process.  If your child has trouble with change, shows less buy-in than you wish or who says there is no problem, this can be invaluable.

Outside Comfort Zone Exercise

  1. Explain what it means when something is “outside your comfort zone” – What is our “comfort zone”?  Use examples from your own daily life. What things do you do easily every day? What things push you toward the edge of your comfort zone or clearly outside it? For example, I was nervous to learn to ski. It felt uncomfortable at first. You can prompt your child by asking questions about this idea of being uncomfortable and stretching to get beyond it. “Remember when you went to a new soccer team and felt like you wanted to stay with the old one?” Explain that in order to change and grow, we all must be willing to lean into discomfort and engage in the process.
  2. Outside comfort zone circle – On a piece of paper, have your child draw a large circle to represent his comfort zone. Leave a margin around the circle—that’s going to be the space for things outside his comfort zone. Ask him to jot outside the circle some things that are outside his comfort zone. Let your child tell you what those are.
  3. Inside comfort zone circle – Ask him to jot inside it things he does that are inside his comfort zone. These might include joining in with younger kids, staying out of the lunchroom, sitting only with one safe friend, things he loves like Legos, going to grandparents’ house, the after school program he prefers, eating favorite foods, playing with the same people or in the same place.
  4. Inside or Out? If your child hasn’t already named specific social expectations or situations, then ask, “Would _____ be inside your comfort zone or outside your comfort zone?”

Modeling is the Best Coaching Tool

I encourage you to push yourself into unfamiliar places. Modeling to your child that you are willing to do things that you wouldn’t normally do is the best way to coach them to do the same.

DO This At Home!

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

Deeper Dive:

What if my child won’t discuss getting help for social skills?

5 Ways to Maintain Your Child’s Social Skills During COVID

About Caroline Maguire

Caroline Maguire, M. Ed., earned her undergraduate degree at Trinity College and her Masters of Education and Early Childhood Development at Lesley University with a specialization in social emotional learning (SEL).

Caroline is the author of the award winning book, Why Will No One Play With Me?, a playbook of foolproof scripts on how to build social skills.

She created a comprehensive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) training methodology for adults, parents, clinicians and academic professionals. She is the founder and director of The Fundamentals of ADHD Coaching for Families training curriculum at  ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) – the only Coach Training program accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Ms. Maguire is a sought-after lecturer and workshop facilitator on various topics related to social, emotional and behavioral learning. She is a permanent columnist on social skills in CHADD’s Attention Magazine, a favored contributor to U.S. News & World Report, Mind Body Green, Salon, Huffington Post, Today Parenting, ADDitude and WebMD.

Download her free video “How to Tell a Tighter Story,” for advice on how to curb rambling.

Please join her on FacebookInstagramLinked InTwitterMediumPinterest and download her free video “How to Tell a Tighter Story

What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Why is it so Important During COVID?

What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

My simple definition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) – the ability to manage our emotions, build strong relationships, and live in a state of empathy, joy and empowerment.

When you are feeling angry, irritated, overwhelmed in COVID, struggling to initiate caring communication, and bewildered by others’ choices and self-awareness, you are in the midst of a SEL experience.

You can adapt to and adopt effective strategies, or you can succumbed to its effects.

CASEL defines SEL as “how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

Social Emotional Learning SEL
Social Emotional Learning SEL framework from CASEL








CASEL’s five core competencies are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Why SEL Training is So Important During COVID

Social Emotional LearningNo one is immune to the effects of COVID. No one can argue that our children are particularly affected. I share the concern of educators and experts in the Social Emotional Learning field that unless we implement measure ASAP to safeguard our children’s mental and emotional health, the long-term fallout of social isolation may be dire.

Many educators, tossed into this new and challenging environment, are working tirelessly to address academic needs. Although most appreciate and acknowledge the importance of relationships, they are begrudgingly forced into deprioritizing its immediate importance.

How Can We Support the “Whole Person”?

The “whole person” theory includes all elements of human development. SEL development is an integral part of this theory. Research shows that SEL development is also critical for academic performance.







The COVID Upheaval

The upheaval we are experiencing now is hard on everyone: children, teens, young adults, parents, educators, and the community. Parents are having a hard time working from home (or not working) while teaching – not just supporting – children. Educators are no longer doing the work they loved because they are tossed into a hybrid learning model that even they don’t like.

Life skills do not just include knowing math, geography and how to balance a check book. They include the ability to read a room, manage emotions and self manage.

Regardless of the difficulty in our current situation, we can’t allow SEL de-prioritization. Without attending to our relationships, and managing our emotions, we will not be able to come out the other side “whole” and “united”.

Deeper Dive:

5 Ways to Use Social Emotional Learning to Bring Back Joy

5 Ways Kids & Teens Can Take Back Joy During COVID-19

Overview of SEL


Build Social Emotional Skills Over the Holiday

The holidays are a very social time. This can be a good thing; and a not so good thing. Plan now to teach your child these social emotional skills exercises during the holidays.

Common Holiday Social Skills Dilemmas

Social Emotional Learning

Are you trying to avoid last year’s social challenges? Do you wish your teenager would chat easily with your uncle and not ignore everyone to text friends? Did your daughter’s clothing and comments raise eyebrows? Do you fear your son’s look of irritation or his sharp tone will make you cringe again? Were you told your kids played too rough with the cousins?

Plan for Now to Build Social Emotional Skills

The holidays are a perfect time to practice your child social emotional skills. Use this time to work on one specific mission. Probably what causes your child the most angst is also an area of concern for you. Talk openly about this with your child. Jointly decide on one social emotional skill that will build communication and relationship skills to last a lifetime.

social emotional learningWhere ever you go (or don’t go as the case may be) – you will interact with people. Use every opportunity at the mall, holiday parties virtually with friends and family, to standing in line at the grocery store – use the daily life of a parent managing the holiday grind to your advantage.

Are you ready to coach?

This year can be different. Not only are we in unprecedented times, but our social gatherings are more likely to be online than in person. That is OK. It is what it is this year – so let’s make the best of it.

This whole journey starts with you coaching your child. Some kids make friends easily and know how to navigate any social event. Other kids do not. As a parent you are the perfect person to work with your child. You know his struggles. You are her original teacher and are with her day in and day out.

5 Social Skills Exercises to Build Self-Awareness

  1. Help Your Child Become a social spy – Self-awareness is one of the core concepts in CASEL’s Social Emotional Learning framework. In this exercise, you will rehearse in advance what specific social information searching for. It is important for her to understand that she is to listen unobtrusively, to watch other people in a subtle, covert way without looking like she is listening. Have her report back on non-physical traits such as energy, behavior and mood. For physical traits, how about identifying how her peers are wearing their clothing and hair. What do they talk about at lunch? This information can then be used to assess her own traits in order to build self-awareness skills. Read more about Self-Awareness.
  2. Reading the Mood – This can work particularly well with online chats. In advance, identify which family members to observe in order to work on social emotional skills. How does their body language and intonation reflect what they are saying? What do they do to demonstrate their mood? Are they more positive than others? How do thy make you feel. Compare notes later and discuss how each of you would fare in this observation?
  3. Become a better Noticer – In advance of the call, have your child take mental note of grandma’s earrings, hair and clothing. Is there something new or something you like? What did you say that made her particularly happy? Discuss how he can build his communication skills by using this data when engaging in conversation.
  4. Teach your child to engage in a “polite pretend”- The ability to fake interest or happiness and to be polite even when your child is hungry, tired or bored is what I call a polite pretend. Begin by asking him some open-ended questions, what do you think your friend felt about your behavior? How do other people feel about how you treated them? What behavior does the situation call for? This will help your child think about his actions and why performing a polite pretend may be necessary rather than hurting other people’s feelings.
  5. Build a Conversationtaking a conversation from “hi” to a full-fledged conversation is hard for some children and teens but it is a life skill. Model how you use the data you both identified to engage someone. You can comment on her jewelry or clothing to start. Encourage your child to agree with you by nodding if talking is too difficult. The goal is to begin talking to people she doesn’t know well by noting how she talks to people she does know well

 Self-Awareness is at the Root of Belonging

Make a game of this exercise. It can be your own “little secret” and will not only help your child develop critical social skills, but also build your connection.

Deeper Dive:

Self-Management Skills Required this Holiday

5 Ways to Use Social Emotional Learning to Bring Back Joy

Do you worry about your child?


You are not alone. The pandemic has hit all of us hard in so many ways: financially, medically, academically, and socially. Social emotional concerns are at an all-time high. Parents share their struggles and concerns with me. My heart breaks for these kids – and this includes my own two children.

“Where is the fun?!” “How can this still be going on?” “Why can’t someone fix it?”

Add to the pandemic the chaos of an armed insurrection that occurred at the US Capitol. We, parents, are confused and feel helpless. Wouldn’t you gladly “fix” this if at all humanly possible?

I am here to tell you that there are things you can do as a parent to create joy and help your child or teen stay socially and emotionally centered.

5 Ways to Use Social Emotional Learning to Bring Back Joy and Civility 

  1. Walk in Their Shoes – Your child or teen needs you more than ever – even if she doesn’t show it. The world has become big and unrecognizable, and without the life experience you have, it can be scary. Social emotional concerns are at an all time high. You have no idea where we are headed either, but your steady presence can help keep his social emotional boat from tipping. Take a moment to put yourself in his shoes. It really is a tough time. Whatever means you use – meditation, deep breathing, exercise, hiding in a bathroom – try to get your emotions in check. This balance will enable you to manager your own emotions and allow you to truly empathize with your child or teen.
  2. Choose an Activity for Each Day – What activities can he do each day of the month? Rather than saying, “Hey, why don’t you create those videos you have always wanted to make,” say, “Why don’t we sit down and draft some quirky topics you can make videos of?” If a new topic is thought of every day, this will help your child stay focused and interested when they are feeling down. If you son loves tennis, maybe he (gently) hits a ball against the wall one day. The next day, he can do so with his backhand. Craft stores are a great way to bring out the creative right brain in all kids. The point here is to build on strengths, develop new interests, and strengthen relationships.
  3. Monitor and Adapt Tone and Banter – Everyone is at their worse when tired, sad, angry and lonely. Remembering this will help when one family member acts out. Come up with a word or phrase that everyone recognizes as the “code” for returning to civility. The whole family should try to be more considerate. Be sure to share with your children what respectful looks like and admit it when you struggle. In a non-shaming way, say the “code” when tempers flare, tone becomes disrespectful and actions are rude. Eventually, you will catch it before you will need to be told.
  4. Tap into Interests and Strengths – It can be easy to get caught in a stage of moping, but this is not a good place to rest. Together, when both of you are in a loving and receptive mood, brainstorms ways to tap into both of your strengths and interests. You both may have more time on your hands than ever before, so make a pact not to squander it. Be each other’s mentors and remind each other what you each like and where you can find joy. Maybe you both will actually come out of the pandemic with a new or renewed passion.
  5. Stay Centered – I know you miss your friends and former activities too. You don’t have to put on a “brave face” and insist all is OK in the world. As parents we are our children’s social and emotional coping models. It is OK, to share your disappointment, you are human too. Together you can come up with ways that will raise every member of the family’s spirits.  Think of it this way – 2021 is “The Year” to break old, stodgy rules.

The pandemic is tough – on every member of the family. Sharing together ways to overcome the struggle will nurture bonds that will hopefully bring up nice memories down the road on how you all pulled through in one of the worse periods in history.

Deeper Dive:

Encourage Social Skills Development

The Silver Lining: Empathy and Kindness

5 Ways Kids & Teens Can Take Back Joy During COVID-19 (& You Too!)

Empathy is Compassion

What is Empathy?


Self awareness and empathy are not just “nice to have,” they impact people’s ability to be successful in life. Research has shown that people who cannot imagine another person’s inner emotional life, who cannot manage their emotions and who cannot read the room, struggle in the workplace and are less successful than people who have critical social emotional skills.

Empathy is showing compassion, understanding another person’s experience. It is walking in someone else’s shoes.  The chances of bullying or ignoring another’s pain lessens remarkably in highly empathetic people.  The ability to show empathy is a life skill. Reading the Room is a skill everyone can, and should, build. Identifying the physical and non-physical energy of a room helps you build friends.  You are expected to express sorrow when someone is in distress.

Understanding Other People’s Emotions can be Taught

The child or adult who lacks empathy can be seen as uninteresting, selfish, boring and self-absorbed. Parents and teachers can teach empathy. This training can actually save this child from years of pain and isolation. Remember Empathy is Compassion, and who doesn’t need more of that?

How to Teach Empathy

Teaching empathy must involve the community and the individual. A community that respects each other will foster empathy. Greater understanding of empathy comes about by working with the individual. What does empathetic behavior look like? Modeling reinforces empathy, as actions and messages help others learn to  “walk in someone else’s shoes.”

3 Situations to Teach Empathy

•  The emotional experience of others – Draw attention to the emotional experience of others as the act is occuring. Quietly observe without staring, and later have conversation about this episode. How could that person have felt? What was that experience like for you to witness? What could be going on in their lives? What did you notice about her reaction to the situation? How do you think you would have reacted in his shoes?

Lack of Empathy in Individual – When an unpleasant behavior or action occurs, collaboratively talk about it. Rudeness or lack of empathy should be signals that this person is not interpreting how his behavior affects others. Ask, How do you think I feel when you correct me? Is that what you intended?

Others’ Point of View – Preaching rarely works. Instead of insisting, try to explore the state of mind of the person you wish she would reach out to. How does Grandma feel when you don’t visit? Do you think he would have liked to be invited to lunch? Step into the shoes of others to help him reflect on other people’s state of mind. What do other people feel? What is the reaction to their behavior? What did the other people’s facial expressions tell them about their feelings?

Empathy is a social emotional learning skill that needs to be taught. It is as important to a person’s development as academics. Teachers and parents have many resources, including those in Why Will No One Play With Me? to practice at home. This is particularly relevant during COVID.

Deeper Dive:

December 3, 2020 – Social Emotional Training for Teachers and Adults with Caroline Maguire and Scarlett Lewis

3 Tips to Building Empathy During a Social Crisis

Why Teaching Your child Empathy Builds Their Social Skills – Psychology Today


Self-Management Skills Required this Holiday

Like our nation, many of our families are divided.

Self-Management Skills Required this HolidayThis election was a BIGGIE! Whichever side you are on, chances are self-management skills will be required this Holiday season!

What is meant to be a time of joy, kindness, generosity and togetherness can be tinged with dread. We dread the division of our families and our country. We dread witnessing the jabs between our favorite aunt, who is waving a Trump flag, and our favorite cousin, who has spent his life in social service and is vehemently against Trump.

Like our nation, many of our families are divided

And like the country, our families are not always communicating with each other in the way that we would hope.

We love BOTH our aunt and our cousin.  Our children, sitting at the small folding table next to the adult table, are watching us. We are their models. Self-management skills will be required this Holiday season and they can do better if we do better. Moreover, children have a way of loving everyone for who they are – even in a big burly sweater.

Self-Management Skills are Required this Holiday Season

What if we could be proud of our self-management?  What if we step into someone else’s shoes and try to remember who these people are and what they have meant to us? What if we pause before we speak?

Self-management requires self-regulation, self-reflection, perspective taking and/or stepping into someone else’s shoes. Use our understanding of the other person’s past and intentions, we can project their possible reactions.  Our self-awareness will help us react in measured and respectable ways.

We need strategies on how to  offer – and accept – compassion, kindness and perspective.

5 Strategies for Improved Self-Management Skills This Holiday Season:

1.Remember Intention– Assume and remember the best intentions of those around you. What has each one done for you? This is especially important for the relatives on the other side of the aisle.  For those relatives with whom you don’t share the same views, make an extra effort to listen to them. Validate their feelings and emotions.  You can say, “Interesting. I can see why you would feel that way.”  As you express your opinions,  remember to focus on the kindness, compassion and respect your relative has shown you for years, her acts of love and affection.  What you say can damage your relationship.

Self-Management Skills Required this Holiday2.Walk in their Shoes  What could be going on in the his life? Has this year been particularly tough financially? Could COVID have hit her family harder than yours?  Don’t assume motives. Ask Open Ended questions and truly listen to the response without judgement.

3.Build a Bridge to Understanding –If your intention is to speak to your family with respect, ditch the one-liners, zingers and sarcasm. Breathe deeply, pause and respond in a way that convey respect. Keep your tone neutral and avoid words like “always” and “never”.

4.Listen- Listening isn’t just not talking. It involves eye contact, and connection. Keep facial expressions and body language relaxed and friendly. Don’t interrupt or “one-up” either.

5.Manage Emotions Rather Than Having Them Manage You– Now, before the holidays arrive, make a mental or written note of the symptoms your body expresses when it becomes agitated. Come up with ways to lessen these reactions so you don’t overheat and blow your top or say something you wish you didn’t. Use mindfulness to manage your emotions by recognizing the signs and breathing consciously to slow your mind and thoughts.

6.Don’t climb onto the soapbox – It is highly unlikely that you will influence or change anyone’s deep-seated beliefs over pumpkin pie. Keep away from the lectures and ask for another slice of pie instead.

7.Find the similarities– Humans share lots in common as a species. Emphasize commonality and stay away from shaming or declarations of incompatibility.

This holiday season, instead of banning certain topics, institute rules of respect. Insist on giving each member equal time, refrain from interruptions and allow a retort.

In my practice, one of the things I do is teach kids how to listen to one another, to show respect to their peers, and to practice the skills of empathy in order to form a connect. Now more than ever, we need to be reminded of those skills, and practice them with gusto.


SEL Guidance in Response to the 2020 Election
CASEL offers guidance and resources for creating safe, supportive learning environments in which young people and adults can process the election and continue their civic participation.


When Someone Isn’t Nice, Should You Ignore It?




I respect your privacy