Magazine article Work & Family Life

Social and Emotional Skills Have a Big Impact

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Social and Emotional Skills Have a Big Impact

Article excerpt

aking friends and getting along with other people are truly "master skills that affect all aspects of life," says Mark Greenberg, PhD, professor of human development and psychology at Pennsylvania State University and coauthor of a study on social competency.

For the study, researchers at Penn State and Duke University looked at 753 adults who were evaluated for social competency 20 years ago-when they were in kindergarten. Two decades later, high scores for "sharing, cooperating and helping other children" became surprisingly accurate predictors of whether the person graduated from high school on time, earned a college degree, had fulltime employment and avoided a number of negative outcomes.

"It's not just about how you feel-but how you are going to solve a problem," says Dr. Greenberg.

Many elementary schools have embraced "social and emotional learning" (SEL) to help kids become more aware of their feelings and relate more peacefully with others. Sometimes called "character education," SEL emphasizes that we all have positive and negative feelings. It gives kids tools to slow down and think when they face conflict.

"The neural pathways in the brain that deal with stress are the same ones that are used for learning," says Marc Brackett, PhD, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. …

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