Building Skills Related to Managing Emotions, Establishing and Maintaining Positive Relationships, and Responsible Decision-Making
Social and emotional skills involve the process of understanding and applying the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.
Children’s emotions in school are connected to their learning and academic achievement. There is a large and growing body of evidence as well as available programs to integrate into classrooms to teach social and emotional competence.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is part of a trauma-informed approach to prevention and intervention. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Website has many resources on research, policy and programs on SEL for schools. The Guide also shares best-practice guidelines for district and school teams on how to select and implement SEL programs.
PAX is a set of research-based strategies to help students learn important self-management skills while collaborating to make their classroom a peaceful and productive learning environment. Centered on the Good Behavior Game, PAX is not a classroom management program, but it makes managing classrooms much easier. It is not a curriculum, but includes research-based strategies integrated into the existing classroom curriculum to build pro-social skills, resiliency, self-regulation, etc. The PAX Good Behavior Game (GBG) contains the combined science from the youth violence prevention program called PeaceBuilders, the good behavior game, and other studies. It has a strong evidence base.
Good Behavior Game (GBG)*
Good Behavior Game (GBG) is a classroom-based behavior management strategy for elementary school that teachers use along with a school's standard instructional curricula. GBG uses a classroom-wide game format with teams and rewards to socialize children to the role of student and reduce aggressive, disruptive classroom behavior, which is a risk factor for adolescent and adult illicit drug abuse, alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, antisocial personality disorder, and violent and criminal behavior.
I Can Problem Solve is a universal classroom intervention designed to enhance the interpersonal cognitive processes and problem solving skills through structured lessons that are integrated into the general curriculum. The books include scripts for teachers, age-appropriate lessons for students and parent materials. Objectives include: increase impulse control, improve cognitive problem solving skills, improve classroom behavior, create healthier peer relationships for Pre-K – grade 6. It is also a violence prevention intervention. It has a strong evidence base.
Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL)*
Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) is a peer helping program that seeks to build resiliency in youth by pairing youth with peer helpers who receive training and support from teachers participating in the program.
Second Step provides instruction in social and emotional learning with units on skills for learning, empathy, emotion management, friendship skills, and problem solving. It includes bully prevention and child protection modules It has a strong evidence-base for increased positive behavior, reduced conduct problems, reduced emotional distress, improved social and emotional skill performance. The program contains separate sets of lessons for use in prekindergarten through eighth grade implemented in 22 to 28 weeks each year. Second Step uses four key strategies to reinforce skill development: brain builder games (to build executive function), weekly theme activities, reinforcing activities, and home links in English and Spanish. Tools are available for administrators for embedding SEL concepts into school policies to sustain a culture of caring, learning and achievement. implementation of strategies.
Connect with Kids aims to promote prosocial attitudes and positive behavior of elementary (grades 3–5) and secondary (grades 6–12) school students by teaching core character values. Lesson plans include videos, story summaries, discussion questions, student games, and activities for both core and supplemental character traits. The classroom curriculum is reinforced by a website component and schoolwide and community outreach components. The program can be incorporated into an existing curriculum or used as a standalone program. The school or teacher decides on the number of character traits covered in each session, so the program duration may vary from one semester to an entire academic year.
Building Decision Skills aims to raise middle and high school students’ awareness of ethics, help them gain experience developing core values, and give them strategies for dealing with ethical dilemmas. Building Decision Skills consists of 10 lessons that can fill 2 consecutive weeks of daily lessons or be drawn out over a longer period. Using readings, handouts, and overheads, the teacher covers key concepts. Students are encouraged to think about the key concepts through small-group activities, class discussions, and homework assignments. The program also includes schoolwide components such as group discussions, seminars, and assemblies, and can be combined with service learning.
Lessons in Character is designed to promote elementary and middle school students’ knowledge about core character education values and, through that knowledge, shape children’s positive behaviors and support academic success. It consists of 24 lessons organized around weekly themes, writing activities, and class projects. Teachers introduce the theme with a story that shows a value in action; students then engage that topic with a variety of activities. The program also includes daily oral language development and weekly writing assignments, optional parts of the program’s implementation.
Early Risers is a multi-year prevention program for elementary school children demonstrating early aggressive and disruptive behavior. The intervention model includes two child-focused components and two parent/family components. The Child Skills component is designed to teach skills that enhance children’s emotional and behavioral self-regulation, positive peer relationships, and academic success. The Child School Support component aims to identify areas of difficulty in the classroom and creates individualized plans to address those difficulties during the course of normal school activities. The Parent Skills component is delivered in “family night” group sessions and is intended to promote parents’ abilities to support their children’s healthy development by teaching skills that address positive parent–child relations, effective discipline practices, and parent involvement in school. The Family Support component is delivered via home visits to identify basic needs and health concerns and then implement plans designed to assist families in achieving and maintaining healthy lifestyles.
Positive Action, a K–12 program, aims to promote character development, academic achievement, and social-emotional skills, and to reduce disruptive and problem behavior. The program is based on the philosophy that you feel good about yourself when you think and do positive actions, and there is always a positive way to do everything. All lessons are scripted and use classroom discussion, role-play, games, songs, and activity sheets or text booklets. Optional components include site-wide climate development; drug education for grade 5 and middle school; conflict resolution; counselor, parent, and family classes; and community/coalition components.
Social skills training is not a specific curriculum, but rather a collection of practices that utilize a behavioral approach to teaching preschool children age-appropriate social skills and competencies, including communication, problem solving, decision making, self-management, and peer relations. Social skills training can occur in both regular and special education classrooms.
The Incredible Years is composed of training programs for children, parents, and teachers. The child program is designed for children (ages 0–12) with challenging behaviors and focuses on building social and emotional skills. Lessons can be delivered to children referred for difficult behavior or to an entire classroom as a preventative measure. The program consists of 20- to 30-minute lessons 2–3 times a week; these lessons are reinforced by small-group activities, practicing skills throughout the day, and communicating with parents. Lessons cover recognizing and understanding feelings, getting along with friends, anger management, problem solving, and behavior at school. Parent training programs focus on positive discipline, promoting learning and development, and involvement in children’s life at school.
This is an early childhood program that aims to modify teacher and child behavior to create classrooms based on safety, connection, and problem solving instead of external rewards and punishments. The goal is to create a systemwide, relationship-based, community model for behavior management, called the “School Family”. These goals are promoted through program activities that involve intensive teacher training and self-study; coaching and continuing support for teachers as they deploy conceptual components in the classroom and model behaviors; and exposure of students to various social opportunities, including schoolwide opportunities and practice of skills.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Family-to-Family Education Program is a 12-session course for family caregivers of individuals living with serious mental illness. The curriculum-based course covers a range of topics, including participants' emotional responses to the impact of mental illness on their lives, current information about many of the major mental illnesses, current research related to the biology of brain disorders, and information on the evidence-based treatments that are most effective in promoting recovery.