Last Sunday, we took the boys to perform community service at an orphanage in Bandung. We wanted them to practice the social and emotional skills that they already have. It’s a simple thing, but it’s meaningful to them!
Why is practicing social skills important?
Whether we call them soft skills, social/emotional skills, social/emotional intelligence, or growth mindset, there is a consensus among researchers and practitioners that we need certain abilities to achieve our fullest potential at school, in our professional careers, and in our private lives. These abilities help us recognize and manage our emotions, cope with obstacles and life challenges, and enhance communication skills and good interpersonal relations (including empathy.)
“Children’s capacity to achieve goals, work effectively with others and manage emotions will be essential to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
Besides acknowledging the importance of social/emotional skills such as perseverance, sociability, and self-esteem, the report discusses how policy-makers, schools, and families facilitate the development of social/emotional skills through intervention programs, teaching, and parenting practices.
However, it is always useful when the boys have a chance to practice social/emotional skills under the guidance of experienced adults. The best case scenario is when programs for enhancing social/emotional skills are an integral part of an educational system and a local community’s initiatives.
Young people often feel good about being involved in something where others expect them to turn up, where they feel helpful and valued, and where they’re supported to achieve something as part of a group. These positive feelings can help protect young people from sadness and depression.
Being involved in some kind of social activity can also reduce the likelihood of substance abuse, mental illness and criminal activity.