Another exciting new study showed that teaching "soft" skills to aggressive young children can reduce their chances of becoming involved in criminal trouble in the future. This sounds amazing. It is yet another indication that social and emotional learning can impact lives.
Photo Credit: Barefoot Social Work
What are "soft" skills? They're those that make us successful in life. Social and emotional skills help us identify and manage our emotions, learn to delay gratification and hold another's point of view in mind. These skills also promote our emotional well being. Without these skills, kids' untamed aggressive behavior will cause disruptive, off-putting responses leaving them ostracized and isolated. And the lack of these skills could drive them to seek out the company of others with equally aggressive behavior patterns. Neither response pattern is optimal and could leave them unable to generate more adaptive behaviors or find healthier peer networks.
Research studies are showing over and over that social and emotional learning programs deliver positive results. This particular study, directed by Duke researchers, identified 6-year-olds who were labeled aggressive. From ages 6-11 these kids took part in a program that taught social and emotional skills along with academic skills. There were also added support for parents and teachers. Lead researcher, Kenneth Dodge says, "The conclusion that we would make is that these "soft" skills should be emphasized even more in our education system and in our system of socializing children."
There seems to be a growing realization that helping kids become successful adults requires more than academic learning. Teaching them social skills and self control along with academic learning is what leads to lasting success.