5 Ways to Strengthen Kids' Emotional Health and Promote Literacy

5 Ways to Strengthen Kids' Emotional Health and Promote Literacy

Literacy and social emotional learning provide an opportunity for children to develop a strong sense of well-being while also creating a more powerful learning experience. Studies have shown, children who have developed strong reading skills perform better in school and have a healthier self-image. Therefore, literacy around social emotional learning helps children develop emotional health awareness– and a sense of who they are as a person – starting in their early childhood years.

Reading is a great tool to spark your child’s imagination and stimulate their curiosity. Reading increases your child’s social emotional vocabulary to improve their understanding and ability to express their emotions with words. Children from the time of birth to age five experience a lot of feelings, but often are unable to or may not know how to express their feelings with words. Social emotional learning helps children to understand and manage their emotions. When children can emotionally connect to characters in books, they develop more self-awareness and as a result build better relationships with others.

How can you strengthen your child's emotional health? These tips can help:

 1. Make time for your children. A busy schedule can sometimes make it hard for parents to spend quality time with their children. However, making time for open conversation and fun activities will help your children connect with you.

  •        Spending time with your children and having honest discussions about their feelings will help them understand their emotions. They will also feel like an essential part of the family unit.

  •        Of course, making time doesn't mean it should be a dull experience. Make it fun! Play a game, cook together, or do something you enjoy.


2. Train your children to be "fluent at feelings." Being good at feelings means your child will know how to recognize what emotions they are feeling and handle them appropriately.

  •    When your child begins to notice their own emotions, they are more likely to share their feelings and ask for help. That promotes a more positive relationship between you and your child.

  •    Many children don't know how to process feelings properly. They shut down when angry because they assume happy feelings are good and sad feelings are wrong. With help, your child can learn that emotions are normal and healthy.

3. Avoid labeling your children when you discipline them. Labeling your child means you are telling them they are only capable of feeling certain types of emotions.

  •    When you label your child, they will feel like they belong in a box and can't escape it. Words like "lazy" and "stupid" make your child feel inadequate, and he doesn't want to belong in that "stupid" box.

  •   Rather than label them when you administer discipline, let them know that it's the behavior that is the problem and not them as individuals.


4. Train them to entertain positive thoughts. Children who watch too much television are more likely to develop problems with aggression and feelings of insignificance.

  •  Encourage your child to spend time outdoors to build self-confidence and self-esteem while promoting positive feelings.

  •  Teaching them to be optimistic and value positive experiences rather than negative ones will help them handle life's challenges healthily. Also, this training will come in handy later in life when they face setbacks and disappointments.

5. Let them know it's okay for life to be hard sometimes. Kids need to know that life isn't always easy. They know life can be full of stress, sadness, and grief.

  •  But when they accept these emotions rather than run from them or suppress them, they learn to take responsibility for their feelings and reactions.

  •  Many children find it difficult to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, or grief because they don’t find out how to deal with challenges until they're already grown up.

  • Reminding your child that it's okay to feel sad or scared will help them form positive coping abilities.

Your child's emotional health can be a continual source of strength, optimism, and growth. Reading is Fundamental and the more you invest in reading with your child it enhances their literacy skills and social and emotional engagement.

Here are some suggestions to foster social emotional growth through literacy

  • Read books to young children that include pictures of faces: Children enjoy seeing pictures, especially pictures of faces that have a range of facial expression.

  • Establish a reading routine, it creates routine and an environment to learn and be creative.

  • Discuss the characters in the book with your child. Ask them how the character felt in the book from their facial expression. Ask your child have they ever felt like any of the characters in the book.

  • Read stories out loud to your children and ask them what new word they learned and what the word means to them. Ask them how the story made them feel.

 10 Children's Books for Social-Emotional Learning in 2022

1.    I Move A Lot and That’s Okay by Shermaine Perry-Knights

2.    Queen Kia’s 8-Step Guide to Friendship by Aniesha Jackson

3.    The Scary Dinosaur and The Stinky Skunk: A Fable on Accepting Differences and Making New Friends by D.M. Whitaker

4.    Note to Self-Journal for Teens by Michelle Harrison

5.    Cassie’s Big Change: Going from the Living Room to the Classroom by Tamera Foley, Ph.D.

6.    Cassie’s Big Change: How COVID-19 Changed The Way We Learn by Tamera Foley,Ph.D.

7.    Exploring My Emotions: A 45-Day Journal (Elementary School-Age Children) by Tamera Foley, PH.D.

8.    Destiny, Hold Your Head High by Damilola A.

9.    Logan Loses Her Cool by Randii Smith 

10. In Cahoots With My Boots (A Book About Self-Confidence) by Sanya Whittaker Gragg