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Social Emotional Health in Children Nadia Johnson, MOT, LOTR LSUHSC Human Development Center

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Social Emotional Health in Children Nadia Johnson, MOT, LOTR LSUHSC Human Development Center LSUHSC Department of Occupational Therapy. What is Social Emotional Health?

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Social Emotional Health in Children

Nadia Johnson, MOT, LOTR

LSUHSC Human Development Center

LSUHSC Department of Occupational Therapy

  • What is Social Emotional Health?
  • Social emotional health is a young child’s growing ability to: a) form close relationships with other people, especially parents and familiar caregivers; b) express and manage emotions and c) explore new environments.
  • What is Social Emotional Learning?
  • Social emotional learning is a process for helping children develop the fundamental skills that foster social emotional health and allow a child to live effectively and ethically. Social emotional learning programs, or SEL programs, can be provided in a school curriculum, as an after school program and in the home.
  • Research in this field dates back to the 1960’s and supports that children who possess healthy social emotional skills perform better in school, have greater school attendance, develop better interpersonal relationships and have a greater ability to manage stress. In addition, research has proven that these children also tend to become more successful productive adults.
  • Areas of Focus in Social Emotional Benefits & Outcomes of Social
  • Learning by CASEL Emotional Learning
  • What is the research supporting this?
  • Bauer, N.S., Gilbert, A.L., Carroll, A.E. & Downs, S.M. (2013). Associations of early exposure to intimate partner violence and parental depression with subsequent mental health outcomes. JAMA Pediatrics, 780, doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.780
    • Exposure before age 3 years is associated with preschool-aged onset of ADHD
  • 2. Case-Smith, J. (2013). Systematic review of interventions to promote social-emotional development in young children with or at risk for disability. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67, 395-404.
  • The review of 23 studies demonstrated low o moderate positive effects for interventions used by OTs to improve social-emotional development birth to 5 yrs with varying diagnoses and in varying settings.
  • 3. Danese, A., Moffitt, T.E.. Parainte, C.M., Ambler, A.,, Poulton, R., & Caspi, A. (2008). Elevated inflammation levels in depressed adults with a history of childhood maltreatment. Archives of General Psychiatry, 65 (4), 409-416
    • A history of childhood maltreatment contributes to the co-occurrence of depression and inflammation (C reactive protein) and future cardiovascular risks
  • 4. Durlack, J.A., Weissberg, R.P., Dymnicki, A.B., Taylor, R.D. & Schellinger, K.B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A Meta-Analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82 (1), 405-432. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01564.x
  • 5. National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2008/2012). Establishing a Level Foundation for Life: Mental Health Begins in Early Childhood: Working Paper 6. Updated Edition. Http://
  • Parents' response to the question, “How do you feel that you know how to tell whether your child's development is healthy and about right for his/her age?” (% who feel totally sure)
  • Melmed, M. E. Pediatrics .1998;102:1317-1326
  • What can we do as individuals and families to foster social emotional health?
  • Gently hold and cuddle your child often
  • Take time to follow your child’s lead. Join in floor time play: playing Legos, reading books, etc…
  •  Be sure your expectations match what your child is socially emotionally ready to do. For example, expecting a 2 year old to share toys may cause frustration for the parent and the child , if the child is unwilling to share.
  • When your child “acts up” try to uncover the real reason for the behavior. He/She may be frustrated, tired, hungry or sad.
  • Don’t let your child witness family violence. Don’t let anyone physically or verbally abuse your child.
  • Take care of your own social-emotional health.
  •  If your child is doing something wrong, give him/her an example of what you are expecting from him/her
  • Start fostering virtues in your child at an early age. Establish acts of kindness in your family and provide age-appropriate kind acts for your child to use. Engage in charitable giving opportunities to foster empathy. For example, participating in a food drive at Thanksgiving time, donate old coats during the winter, etc...
  • What can we do as healthcare providers to foster social emotional health?
  • Family-centered approach to care
  • Teachable moments
  • Medical home model
  • Touch-based interventions
  • Play groups
  • Instruction-based interventions (i.e. social narratives)
  • What can we do as politicians to foster social emotional health?
  • Support legislation that focuses or includes social emotional health
  • Introduce and/or author a bill
  • Be knowledgeable about existing pieces of legislation that can , but does not currently, include social emotional health and add a revision (i.e. gun control initiative, Project AWARE)
  • Invest in state programs to educate local communities on social emotional health and how to integrate these core competencies early on in a child’s life from a prevention & wellness standpoint
  • Please share your own thoughts, ideas and experiences on ways to foster
  • social emotional health!
  • Be Healthy: mind, body and spirit