Social & Emotional Learning: What is it? How can we use it to help our children?

By Dr. Robin Stern, Ph.D


What skills are the best predictors of academic and life success? Why is it that some children grow up to be fulfilled adults in challenging careers and satisfying relationships, while other children, from apparently similar backgrounds and academic performance, struggle in relationships, dead-end careers and depressions? A growing number of educators recognize that students who receive an exclusively academic education may be ill-equipped for future challenges, both as individuals and members of society — it’s just not enough to feed only the mind. The field of social and emotional learning (SEL) has emerged from these new understandings of the nature of biology, emotions and intelligence and their relation to success and happiness. Through social and emotional learning children’s emotional intelligence (EQ) is bolstered, giving them an enormous edge in their personal and professional futures.

What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is not a new concept; it was around as long ago as Socrates, who had these wise words of advice: Know Thyself. Hundreds of years later, we have begun to formalize Socrates’ philosophies into what has become known as social and emotional learning (SEL), the learning process by which we can aspire to a higher EQ. Studies show that EQ is the best predictor of a child’s future achievement; better than any other single factor. EQ is a better predictor of success than IQ and technical skills combined. In the 1980s, Howard Gardner, in his important work on multiple intelligences, outlined the presence of seven domains of intelligence; two of them were interpersonal and intrapersonal – these combined were the forerunner of what we now know as emotional intelligence. The term was first coined by Peter Salovey, professor and psychologist at Yale University, and John Mayer, professor and psychologist at the University of New Hampshire. In 1995 Daniel Goleman, the leading expert in this field, reported “IQ is only a minor predictor of success in life, while emotional and social skills are far better predictors of success and well-being than academic intelligence.”

Continue reading

From the Blog: One True Thing

Psychoanalyst Robin Stern and Project Rebirth | Psychology Today | by Jennifer Haupt

Life’s questions, big and small.

Survivors of 9/11 talk about overcoming tragedy and grief.
Published on September 8, 2011 by Jennifer Haupt in One True Thing

In Project Rebirth, a psychologist and a journalist examine the lives of nine people who were directly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. This collection of in-depth stories brings up questions and answers about how people react in the face of crippling grief, and how they rebuild their lives with hope, and amazing strength. Here’s more from psychoanalyst Robin Stern:

Jennifer Haupt: Tell me about this insightful collection of
stories that you and Courtney Martin put together.

Robin Stern: Project Rebirth is a companion piece to the movie Rebirth — and, stands on its own as a book showcasing the strength of the human spirit, resilience and hope. While the movie follows the lives of five people, Courtney and I were privileged to tell the story of eight people.

The movie has the backdrop of the rebuilding of the site; the book, on the other hand, weaves in the most current thinking from psychoanalysts, research psychologists and grief and loss experts about what has been newly discovered about grief, trauma, and resilience in recent years. While our stories do overlap with the movie, they are unique in their structure and narrative arc; naturally, we were able to include more details, more personal stories and recounting of defining moments from the survivors’ lives. It is exciting that these stories can be told through two different, meaningful and creative lenses.

JH: How this is a book about resilience and hope?

RS: Each chapter tells the story of one person who was directly affected by 9/11. Courtney and I had the extraordinary opportunity to draw on the footage, as well as interview all the subjects in the book, this past year, as we were writing. In their evolution and recovery we see the process of resilience at work, and we see moments and seasons of despair turn into hope for a new life and new future.

Continue reading

Are You Being Gaslighted?

Check for these telltale signs:

1. You constantly second-guess yourself.

2. You wonder, “Am I being too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.

3. You wonder frequently if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/wife/employee/friend/daughter.

4. You have trouble making simple decisions.

5. You think twice before bringing up innocent topics of conversation.

6. You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.

7. Before your partner comes home from work, you run through a checklist in your head to anticipate anything you might have done wrong that day.

8. You buy clothes for yourself, furnishings for your apartment, or other personal purchases thinking about what your partner would like instead of what would make you feel great.

Continue reading