Today’s children are taught reading, writing and math before they start kindergarten with an emphasis on the earlier the better. We are so concerned with the intellectual development of our children that we barely touch on their social and emotional development; which is really odd considering that we human beings are affected by emotions in all aspects and at every turn in our lives.
Our memories are triggered by sights, smells and sounds but they are made vivid by the range of emotions attached to them. Hearing a specific song can bring about a memory of a particular time. We have probably heard the same song hundreds of times. There was one time when it was attached to a strong emotion – maybe a first love, junior prom, or a special date; but it is the emotion that underpins the memory.
Memory is only one way that emotions affect our lives. Emotions can cloud our minds, control our actions, but they can also propel us to achieve great things when properly directed. They are powerful and as adults we often find them difficult to handle. Children develop an awareness of emotions almost as soon as they start acquiring language skills. This is the perfect time to educate them on how to begin to identify and handle emotions, and build resilience for those times when the going gets tough.
A group of professionals working with an organization concentrating on the mental health and well-being of children created a program called Tools for Life®, designed to help children, teachers, care givers and parents navigate this difficult area.
Tools for Life® is a Social Emotional Learning program that provides practical strategies and tools that better enable children from age 3 to Grade 8 cope with their emotions, and act and react appropriately. The children learn to identify their own feelings and recognize body clues as to how others are feeling. They acquire decision-making strategies to channel these emotions into positive interactions and respectful communication. Self-awareness, empathy and self-regulation are enhanced by the program’s 8 specific Tools for dealing with everyday social interactions.
Tools for Life® in the classroom allows children through play-based games, songs, activities and lessons to hone social skills, critical thinking and build confidence and resilience without aggression. And recently Tools for Life® HomeSTART, the home version, was added to help families practice and model these same emotional skills with their children at home.
The Tools for Life® program has been very successful in a growing number of school districts, homes and child care facilities throughout the US and Canada. More information on the program is available at toolsforliferesources.com.
From a young age children need to be empowered with tools and strategies to cope with conflict, build positive relationships, and realize their full potential both individually and as an integral part of the community.
Author: Ms. Lisa Lane