How to develop social-emotional skills?

Social- emotional skills are the learned behaviors we carry out when we relate to people in our environment, through the expression of our feelings, attitudes, rights or opinions

Thus, a person with optimal socioemotional abilities will show skill in relating and behaving appropriately according to specific goals in different situations.

Social-emotional skills

In this article, I’m going to show you some of the most important social-emotional skills and how to develop them, emphasizing the school environment at an early age, as the earlier these skills are established, the person will grow more optimally.

Within social-emotional skills, there are basic skills (listening, starting a conversation, asking a question, giving thanks, being present, etc.) and more developed skills (taking initiatives, making decisions , setting goals or solving problems according to their importance, .

In order to get to develop the second, you have to start with acquisition training.

The development of social-emotional skills in school

One of the essential environments for the development of socio-emotional skills is the educational one, since these skills must be started at an early age.

Social integration

Education has as its main function the social adaptation of the individual. This involves promoting their integration into society through socialization, through which each subject, through interaction with others, develops different ways of feeling, thinking and acting that are essential for appropriate participation in society.

At present, in the developed societies there are continuous changes that demand to the individual a continuous adjustment. Therefore, it is vital to develop the adaptability of the individual and flexibilization of the subjects to be able to mold ourselves according to the needs that arise.

However, in relation to the inclusion of the development of social-emotional abilities and emotional intelligence in the school, it is necessary to take into account that the resources that we have in the school as well as the time that the children spend in him are limited.

Develop skills

According to the authors Lopes and Salvoes, there would be two options in which to focus to work the skills:

  • Adjust to the needs of a specific person or group, the problems they present at school, at their workplace, at home and / or on the street.
  • Focus on skills with probabilities of generalization to other domains and which, in turn, are important for the development of other skills.

Choosing one option or another will be guided by the demand that we face. Emotional skills training programs can be designed in a structured or semi-structured way.

In the latter, there is more possibility of giving way to improvisation, to be able to work adapting to each situation and person in particular.

Team work

Through group work on social-emotional skills, we can fully address general skills training with exercises aimed at reducing anxiety, cognitive restructuring, and solving specific problems presented by each group member.

According to Lopes and Salvoes (2001) there are several emotional abilities, such as planning and deliberation, control and evaluation of the course of action, which are interrelated.

If all training included these skills, improving skills would facilitate self-knowledge on the part of the person performing the training, as well as improving their ability to interact with others.

Some of the activities that these authors propose since the child’s early age are cooperative learning or discussion groups as a didactic methodology. This methodology provides learning in the child to interact with their peers.

In addition to their intrinsic interest in their regulation of emotions, there is a high probability that such learning will be generalized in other contexts, helping to diminish violent behavior.


CASEL (Collaborative to Advance Social and Emotional Learning) is an organization founded in 1994 by Eileen Rockefeller Growled, Daniel Goldman and Timothy Shriver to achieve the establishment of social and emotional learning as an essential part of education from preschool years to high schools.

For them, SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) is the necessary and fundamental development process for social and emotional competencies in children.

Training in social and emotional skills is most effective when it is integrated as a longer-term goal, working from an early age in the subject’s early childhood.

Most important competences that must be the object of work for the development of social-emotional abilities

Self-awareness or self-awareness

This concept refers to knowing what we are feeling at every moment, making realistic assessments regarding our own abilities and recognizing our strengths, limitations and connection with our own feelings. In this way, we will be realistic when it comes to setting goals.

Social or social awareness – awareness

It is the understanding that others are also feeling and being able to adopt their different perspectives, getting to interact positively with various groups. It knows that we are not alone and that just as we have rights, we also have duties.

This competence includes learning to identify and understand the thoughts and feelings of others and understand that through diversity, complementarily in society is possible.

Self-management or self-management

Identify our emotions and use them as facilitating factors of the activities we intend to do and not act as interference. Learn to be aware of the need to delay the rewards to achieve certain goals and develop perseverance to tolerate frustration and difficulties.

In this competition it is important to learn how to manage emotions as well as set short and long term goals and work towards their achievement.

Responsible decision-making

For this competence, it is essential to teach the child to accurately assess the risks. Know how to make decisions taking into account all relevant factors, as well as assessing the possible consequences of alternative actions, assuming responsibility for each action and respecting the other.

Sometimes making decisions is not an easy task since doubting about the most appropriate option can produce feelings of anguish.

In developing the learning of this competence we will follow the following steps:

  1. Analysis of the options: for this @nalysis, we have to take into account our feelings, our principles and values ​​in which we believe (every decision must be in accordance with our values), the information we have in relation to the subject, responsibility for consequences.
  2. Respect others: understand that others deserve to be treated kindly and with respect.
  3. Reflect and communicate firmly and clearly the decision.

Against the steps to follow for good decision-making, I will now detail some actions that we should not take when making a decision:

  • Avoid and postpone the decision at the last moment.
  • Delegate responsibility to others for decision.
  • Allow fate or chance to decide for us.
  • Let you be dominated by the feeling of fear and decide for fear of rejection or disapproval.
  • Make the first decision that passes through our heads without taking into account the consequences.

Relationship skills

Make use of the emotions to carry out effective, healthy and reinforcing relationships that have their base in the cooperation. Resistance to inappropriate social pressures. Negotiate solutions to conflicts and learn to ask for help when needed.

To do this, the child will be taught the use of verbal and nonverbal skills to communicate with others and to build healthy relationships with other people and / or groups. In this competition, it is also important to teach the subject of negotiation in order to solve conflicts in which both parties benefit.

In addition, emphasis will be placed on learning the negative. This is something in which there are enough deficits in society today. The child should be taught to communicate that he has wished not to make a decision without thinking that it is a bad thing.

A good communication consists of active listening in which we manifest behaviors in which we show clearly that we are showing interest in what the other person transmits. The listening signals mark the rhythm of the conversation.

Exercises for developing social-emotional skills

Write an emotional diary

It is a very useful exercise is to work all the skills. In it will be added the experiences that are presented in the day to day and the emotions that cause him emotional discomfort (emotional diary).

Once the general skills training period ends, time is devoted to @nalyzing the various problem situations these individuals have noted in their diary and conducting a group approach.

Exercise to develop assertiveness

A good exercise to learn to develop assertiveness is to write in a notebook 5 things you approve of your physical image and 5 things of your way to be that you like. If you are not able to find them yourself, you can ask friends or relatives.

Finally, it is about reviewing the lists and thinking that if that person knew someone with those characteristics, surely would be happy to meet you.

Exercise to develop effective decision making

This exercise consists of writing down some ideas about the ways people make decisions. We then reflect on the risks, advantages and disadvantages and possible consequences of each of the forms that have been mentioned previously.

Exercise for good social communication

As I mentioned earlier in the section on communication, a person performs a good active listening when he is able to give attention in an intentional way, with empathy knowing how to put him in the place of the other.

To perform this exercise, we will need two people. One will tell a relatively important story for him and the other will listen, although putting many impediments to communication: give advice without being asked by the speaker, talk to someone else while the other continues talking, interrupt and change the subject, will laugh without coming to story, etc.

In a new scene, you begin to tell a problem that matters to you and the listener will ask you by clarifying questions, letting him know that he understands you, look him in the face and nods.

Given these two very different situations, which one is more positive? In what situation have we set up communication and active listening skills? With this exercise, it is intended to make the individual see the importance of effective communication.

Sandwich technique

It is considered one of the most effective techniques for improving social skills. This is to begin the communication focusing on a positive aspect, then to continue with an aspect that could be improved and to end up with some encouraging words for change such as: I know you are putting a lot of effort in changing your attitude and it shows because you’ve improved on it.

Messages from “I”

Self-centered messages should be used to give our opinion or express our beliefs about a topic to the other person.

We will use them instead of making generalizations, because what for oneself is in a certain way does not have to be the same for the other because each point of view is subjective. “I think …”, “I think …”, “In my opinion …”

When we carry out this competency learning in the early ages, we grow as socially and emotionally competent people, with self-awareness and positive attitudes towards ourselves and others.

So, the sooner you work the socio-emotional skills, the earlier you will develop and benefit in the life of each individual.

Thus, we will know our strengths and grow optimistic about our future. We can manage our emotions and achieve our goals and goals and solve problems effectively and responsibly.