Education Matters

Fostering a healthy mind – the importance of emotional skills for boys

Posted by Trinity Grammar School on Oct 10, 2017 6:00:00 AM

Fostering a healthy mind – The importance of emotional skills for boysToday, as it is World Mental Health Day, we look at the importance of emotional skills for boys, and why it should not be underestimated. Research has shown that emotional skills are crucial for children to become successful both socially and academically. How a child reacts emotionally to different situations can have an impact on their decision-making, how they behave and ultimately their happiness and wellbeing.

There are five core skills that are widely recognised as critical emotional skills:

  • Self-awareness

  • Self-management

  • Social awareness

  • Relationship skills

  • Responsible decision making

Early social emotional skills are related to how socially, emotionally, academically and professionally skilled we are later in life. For example, having higher emotional skills in Kindergarten is related to important outcomes at age 25 (Jones, Greenberg, & Crowley, 2015). These outcomes include, educational success, established careers and social competency.

Emotional skills help children to persist with challenging tasks, to effectively seek help when they need it, to be thoughtful in their actions and to be emotionally resilient.

Importantly, emotional skills can be taught. This was highlighted in a large review of the emotional skills of 270,034 students in Kindergarten through to Year 12 (Durlak et al., 2011). The review found emotional learning programmes in schools not only improved emotional skills, but also increased positive attitudes toward school, positive social behaviour and academic performance. These programmes also decreased the likelihood of students getting in trouble or experiencing emotional problems.

Today, on World Mental Health Day, we look at five strategies for fostering a healthy mind and emotional learning:

1. Be a good emotional role model
Boys model their behaviour on people they admire, such as their parents and teachers. Boys learn appropriate ways to react in similar circumstances by observing the variety of emotions and coping strategies adults use to manage their emotions.

2. Be an ‘emotion coach’
Accept and talk about your son’s emotions. Teach him how to label emotions, cope with and problem-solve emotions, and appropriately express them. Emotion coaching is associated with greater emotion regulation and adaptive behaviours, as well as lower levels of disruptive behaviours (Dusnmore, Booker, & Ollendick, 2013; Gottman, Katz, & Hooven, 1996).

3. Read books with emotional plots
Reading books can provide opportunities to learn and discuss emotional topics, such as turn-taking and cooperation. Asking your son to label and explain the emotions of the characters in the story will help him to learn a variety of emotions (Brownell, et al., 2013).

4. Give choices
Providing your son with choices – and the independence to make them – is linked to higher levels of emotional learning. A parent-child relationship that involves working together to solve problems teaches children how to negotiate and solve problems with parents, which later leads to improved social skills and higher acceptance in relationships with peers (Matte-Gagné, Harvey, & Stack, 2015).

5. Use positive discipline strategies
Setting rules and expectations for behaviour, giving warnings of potential consequences, offering praise and incentives for positive behaviours and ignoring unwanted behaviour are all associated with higher levels of emotional skills (LaRosa, Ogg, Suldo, & Dedrick, 2016). When boys act out, discuss the effects of their behaviour on others to promote empathy, perspective taking and prosocial behaviour (Eisenberg, VanSchyndel & Hofer, 2015).

Trinity recognises that your son will flourish in an environment where he is valued and known. The School is committed to providing a space in which he has the opportunity to discover his interests, skills and talents – where he is encouraged to realise his potential, passions and purpose in life.

The School’s fundamental belief is that best classroom practice goes hand in hand with Pastoral Care, with programmes designed to help every boy grow in mind, body and spirit.

Trinity's Life Skills Programme is part of a whole School approach to health and wellbeing. In conjunction with the development of ethical, moral and religious values, its goal is to enhance boys’ capacity to be emotionally resilient and socially competent.

To discover how Trinity exposes its students to real life situations and issues, developing important interpersonal and intrapersonal emotional, cognitive and behavioural skills, download our Year 7 Life Skills Programme.

Trinity's Year 7 life skills programme download 

Topics: Boys' education, Academic excellence, Trinity difference, Mental health, Boys learning, Improve learning