How To Help Build Social And Emotional Competencies For Children At Home?

इस ब्लॉग को हिंदी में पढ़ने के लिए यहाँ क्लिक करें।

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a major epidemic all across the globe. However, young children are highly affected by the quarantine and the anxiety of their parents and other adults they interact with. Adults may think that children will not notice all the changes and the stress, but they are very sensitive to what is going on around them. Parents are the first and foremost teachers their children will ever have and during this crucial time of COVID-19, parents are the critical partners in helping themselves as well as their children build life skills that would help them in these uncertain times. In this article, we will look at how social and emotional competence is understood and can be developed with children in the home setting with some activities we have compiled from various sources. 

What is social-emotional competence?

Social-emotional competence combines emotional intelligence and social skills. Being emotionally intelligent means being able to recognize and understand our own and others’ emotional states. It also means being able to communicate about our own emotions accurately and to be aware of the emotional content of others’ communications. Our social skills reflect our ability to direct our attention to important verbal and nonverbal information coming from others and to respond in ways that consider their needs as well as our own.

Social and emotional competence builds the repertoire of life skills an individual has at their own disposal to deal with various situations, especially adverse life events. They also help strengthen healthy relationships, boost self-confidence and become more empathetic while responding to one’s environment. In a time of global crisis, it becomes important for children to be taken care of when they also respond to the uncertainty around them in the form of the various changes that would take place in their schedules and their daily living.

Here are 4 activities to build SEL for children at home:. 

Understanding child’s feelings: Get some different pictures of feelings/emotions and place them in front of your child, for example, show them a card with a picture of a happy emotion and ask them about when they felt happy, then show them a different emotion and ask them if they can name that emotion and talk about examples from their own experiences when they felt that emotion. This will help the child understand/name their own feelings/emotion and they will be able to communicate with caregivers about what they are feeling.

Act out feelings: This activity is about acting out feelings, put some different emotions in front of your child and ask them to act out the feelings using only their hands, for example, the feeling of being sleepy/hungry, how can you act it out with your hands or the feeling of being loved this kind of activity helps them build nonverbal communication and also understanding body language which is an important component of social-emotional Intelligence.

Managing Emotions: This activity is about managing emotions. If your child worries about going to the doctor for testing, well sometimes you can use a soft toy or a prop to manage those emotions, for example, this is our friend Cloud and at the moment he is feeling sad because he needs to go to the doctor’s, while what if we gave him this brave emotion(emotion picture), maybe he’ll just feel a bit happier about going to the doctor’s, not naming your children directly can help them express their feelings. This is also known as externalization, which helps an individual conceptualize feelings, thoughts, and behaviours as entities that are outside of their own selves.

Collaborative learning with children: Various children have their classes online. To maintain continuity in their learning, caregivers can creatively engage with their subject content. For example, a caregiver online mentions that they send kids who are learning math basics on a mission around the house or the building to count all the windows, for example—and then asking them the average number of windows in each room or apartment. For young children who are younger than 3 years old, the act of independent play is tough. Parents will be tempted to hand over an iPhone or iPad or the like. This is understandable, but parents should also know that the younger the child, the worse the exposure to technology is for their language and cognitive development. As alternatives that might keep kids sitting still while parents work from home, parents can set kids up with Play-Doh, art supplies, audiobooks, or even homemade recordings of their parents reading their favourite books.


Mindfulness strategies: Being aware of our thoughts, our emotions, our surroundings, and our breathing can help us, whether we are adults or children. When we are anxious or upset, our breathing often becomes rapid and shallow. It’s a normal biological response to stress. When we take deep breaths, we send a message back to the brain: It’s okay to calm down. In moments of peace, teach your kids to notice their breathing and to take deep breaths. This can be as simple as pretending your fingers are birthday candles and blowing them out one by one.

Bingo: At the beginning of the day ask the child to decide a task that they want to accomplish during the day as per their BINGO list!  Everyone being at home brings an opportunity to celebrate togetherness at the same time continuously thinking about how to keep the young minds engaged productively. These new circumstances make it possible to do something which builds social and emotional resilience by engaging them in house chores or simple activities. Here’s the Bingo sheet for your reference

Reflections: While doing the house chores together we also suggest that based on the age group of the child you may choose some or all of these questions. There are ideas to help you think of the other question as well. This also brings an opportunity to have a conversation, reflect and think about oneself. 

SEL aligned Conversation Questions:

  1. What makes you feel scared? What do you do when you feel scared?
  2. What makes you angry? How do you calm your anger?
  3. What do you enjoy the most?
  4. What makes you feel bad?
  5. Are you scared of your teachers? If yes/No, why?
  6. What does it take to keep the home environment happy?
  7. What kind of people do you like/Dislike?
  8. Do you get into fights with your friends? What are the common reasons?

Social connection is critical to human survival and quarantine is not conducive to it. Parents have to think creatively about helping kids create the time and space to connect. COVID 19 has brought everyone at a pause. Everyone being at home brings an opportunity to celebrate togetherness at the same time continuously thinking about how to keep the young minds engaged productively. These new circumstances make it possible to do something which builds social and emotional resilience by engaging them in house chores or these simple activities. Let’s  try to keep as much of that normalcy for kids as you can. Because if we encourage each other to share resources, a lot of times you’ll find richness in community-building. It helps the kids feel like the world isn’t falling apart right now. 


About the author:  

Mansi Gohil has completed her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Mumbai University. She is currently a fellow at Apni Shala Foundation. As part of her fellowship, Mansi facilitates social emotional learning with students, teachers and caregivers. When Mansi is not working you will find her learning Japanese and cooking new dishes.

Loved reading this piece? At Apni Shala, we are committed to bring you more SEL-aligned resources during this pandemic. Our work is dependent on generous donations from our supporters. If you found this useful, make a donation here: I would love to donate to Apni Shala.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Divya Gonewar says:

    Too good dear.. 👌👌 keep going… ✨
    Stay home stay safe..
    Best wishes..


  2. Kartik says:

    Amazing blog! Great content! Really thoughtful and practical. I’m sure this is going to help many families to build a healthy relationship with their children. Young minds if nurtured well can become great minds and this blog provides a great impetus on useful tools to nurture young delicate minds. Kudos to the author! Very well written and compiled! Keep up the good work!


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