The need for Social & Emotional well being

I have been quite fascinated by the age-old question “Why did such and such person do that?”. And the answer would most often be “Situations made him/her do that”.
This grew more and more puzzling when I started with students of Grade 8. Within a matter of 7 hours, they undergo so many changes in emotions and moods that teaching an adolescent requires a lot of skills.
Of late, I started to deep-dive more into the concept of Emotional Intelligence and that’s when I came across this concept called as “Social and Emotional Well-being”. Many educators are researching and implementing SEI for early adolescents and insist that it is as critical as the content we teach them.
Early adolescent broadly includes students aged between 11 and 15, sometimes as early as 10 all the way till 20 years even. Ideally considered as the stage between childhood and adulthood, it is the stage that gives a sensible foundation to
1) Physical Development
2) Emotional Development
3) Social Development
4) Cognitive Development

With the bodily changes that happen and the development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics, this stage is also sees hormonal highs and lows due to which they experience moody, intense, unpredictable emotions. They long to have a sense of identity at home and at school, making peer approval more important than anything. Recent research has proven that adolescents have higher sensitivity to mental illness.
For the social and emotional wellbeing of the adolescents, it is necessary that
teachers/parents/educators support their development. Extreme criticism, humiliation and sarcasm will hinder their efforts to grow. Helping them develop positive peer interaction, a good advisor/mentor circle and constructive educative experience will help them have a good identity formation.

Image result for social and emotional well being
Poor social and emotional skills in the adolescents pose a higher threat of substance abuse, display anti- social behavior, experience problems in workplace and in relationships. Thus, it is very essential for an educator (be it parents, teachers or mentors) to keep this fact in mind while engaging with adolescents. Technical and Academic knowledge is no longer enough to live in harmony, we need social and emotional intelligence as much!

As much as we talk about Emotional and Social Well-being for adolescents, we care less and less about this as we grow older.

As much as we talk about Emotional and Social Well-being for adolescents, we care less and less about this as we grow older. They are few to zero research on why we should talk more about well-being in adults also; maybe the assumption is that the foundations for well-being is deep-rooted during the growing ages that the adults know how to be Emotionally and Socially healthy. But truth is that, many adults get into substance and alcohol abuse, show anti-social behaviour and face numerous coping issues at any social gathering because they are yet to know how to be socially and emotionally secure.
Yixin Chen and Thomas Hugh Feeley in their research paper titled “Social support, social strain, loneliness, and well-being among older adults: An analysis of the Health and Retirement Study*” have proposed that, among older adults, higher support and lower strain received from each of the four relational sources (spouse/partner, children, family, and friends) were associated with reduce loneliness and improved well-being and that loneliness might mediate the relationship between support/strain and well-being. Thus formation of a support structure increases the wellness of a human being irrespective of which age group he/she belong to.
In my opinion, the ability to have someone to fall back to is of utmost importance. This has to be built from a young age and the ideal one for it would be the adolescent age. Parents and Educators should help children in building a positive relationship and that skill would be a life-long asset. Healthy relationships remove unwarranted validations which in turn leads to healthy mind.

To all adults out there, the ideal time to start the journey towards emotional and social well-being is adolescence, the next-best time is now! Let us break the taboo and speak up about it. After all, health is health; be it body or mind.

The writer is Harinie T who leads the public school operations at Involve. She has strong interest in social emotional intelligence and also designs the sessions on the same for our student leaders.

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