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4 Easy Social Emotional Learning Activities For Kids To Do At Home

It is natural for parents to worry about how their children will make friends, handle situations and conflicts, and adapt to life’s challenges. Social-emotional learning, which is commonly shortened to SEL, represents the life skills that your children learn to thrive throughout their lives. These include self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness. 

In short, SEL helps both children and adults alike to understand their emotions and those of others, make mindful and responsible choices, and build positive relationships. While SEL is a common term among teachers and educators, children don’t stop learning when they leave school.

Implementing your children’s social-emotional learning in their home environment can reinforce these essential skills. Here are five easy activities that you can use with your children to support SEL at home.

1. Start Gratitude Journals

You may have already heard of the benefits of gratitude journals for adults, but they are also helpful for kids! Keeping a gratitude journal can help young people reflect on their life experiences, ultimately increasing their self-awareness and self-management. 

Create a gratitude journal for your child by providing them with an empty notebook that is dedicated to journaling. Your child can decorate the front of their journal using coloring tools or stickers. Instead of writing generally, you can help facilitate your child’s journal entries by giving daily journal prompts that encourage deeper thinking and expression, such as:

  • What is one thing that you are grateful for today?

  • Describe one of your favorite memories this year.

  • What is something that makes you happy?

  • Name a friend and describe what makes them special to you.

  • What is the best thing that happened to you today?

  • What are you proud of yourself for?

  • Describe a time that someone was kind to you.

  • What makes you feel loved?

  • What is one of your favorite things about school?

2. Mood Meter Check-Ins

Mood meters, also known as emotional check-ins, are a popular tool in therapy to help clients measure their emotional states. The good news is these tools can also be utilized by parents to help children build self-awareness of their feelings and their emotional vocabulary. These can be printed out and presented to your child at the beginning, middle, or end of each day. 

You can download some of our emotional check-ins on our website. You can help get children to participate in these emotional check-ins by finding ones that are themed to their interests—for example, if your child likes cats, dogs, Legos, or gardening, you can use meters with those themes. Remember that while some feelings may be “big” or uncomfortable for your children, there are no “bad” feelings! In fact, being able to identify these big feelings is a step toward self-awareness and self-management.

3. Make Daily Schedules

Children crave structure, something that provides them a sense of predictability, safety, and security. Your child is most likely very used to their school schedule, so being at home for an extended period of time may cause them to feel more emotions and higher levels of restlessness. 

To help your child practice responsible decision-making and self-management, give your child a daily schedule that they will follow for the day. Allow them to co-create this schedule so they feel empowered and motivated to follow through with it. Some ways that you can help facilitate this conversation with your child are by saying:

  • What would you like to do tomorrow? Let’s write it down or draw it together.

  • We had a busy day! Let’s sit down and go over how we are feeling about it.

  • Look at everything we accomplished today! What was the best part of it? What part was the most challenging? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

4. Reset Your Body

When we experience strong emotions, our bodies feel it and respond in different ways. As adults, we may have developed the skills we need to cope with big emotional responses in our bodies. However, many children have not developed these skills and are still learning how to handle them. 

To increase your child’s self-management and self-awareness, introduce and guide your child through a kid-friendly breathing or stretching exercise. You can choose to do so at a scheduled time of the day, such as before bedtime or after lunch, or in moments that may be helpful for navigating big feelings. Some examples of kid-friendly breathing exercises include:

  • Dragon breathing 

  • Bubble breathing

  • “Stop and smell the flowers”

  • Hot air balloon breathing

  • Darth Vader breathing

At Social & Emotional Wellness Initiative, we are dedicated to helping children, families, and communities develop the skills that they need to reach their full potential. For more information about social-emotional learning and how your organization may benefit from SEL, please reach out at


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