The positive impact of developing social and emotional skills

Much research has been carried out into the wellbeing of children at school, and many recommendations have been made to make schools an environment conducive to personal growth.

One study worth noting is the meta-analysis carried out by Durlak, Weissberg, Oberle and Taylor in 20171 , which reviewed over 80 social and emotional interventions involving close to 100,000 students around the world (from kindergarten to high school).

The authors observed improved skills, attitudes and behaviours from children attending a school which has implemented a social and emotional learning (SEL) program compared to those attending schools which do not offer a similar SEL curriculum.

The results suggest that the most effective SEL interventions are those applied universally across entire schools and integrated systematically into the cultural, educational and family environments.

The framework developed by the Collaboration for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a reliable reference tool often used in academic research to define social and emotional skills.


of children had improved social and emotional skills overall.


displayed enhanced academic performance.


had improved social relationships and lower levels of distress.


had improved attitudes.


had fewer conduct problems.

The CASEL 52


The ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behaviour across contexts. The capacity to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.

  • Identifying one’s emotions
  • Perceiving oneself fairly
  • Recognizing one’s strengths
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-efficacy


The ability to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviours effectively in different situations, to manage stress, exhibit self-discipline, and feel motivation. The ability use planning and organization skills and to work on accomplishing personal and academic goals.

  • Self-control
  • Managing stress
  • Self-discipline
  • Personal motivation
  • Accomplishment of goals
  • Sense of organization

Social awareness

The ability to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures and contexts. The capacity to understand the historical and social norms for behaviours and to recognize family, school and community resources and supports.

  • Taking others’ perspectives
  • Empathy
  • Openness to diversity
  • Respecting others

Relationship skills

The ability to establish and maintain healthy and supporting relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The capacity to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, resist harmful social pressure, resolve conflict constructively, seek or offer help when needed.

  • Communication
  • Social involvement
  • Developing relationships
  • Working as a team

Responsible decision

The ability to make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions while considering ethical standards and safety concerns. The capacity to realistically evaluate the consequences of one’s actions for personal, social and collective wellbeing.

  • Recognizing issues
  • Analyzing situations
  • Resolving problems
  • Evaluating
  • Reflecting
  • Ethical responsibility

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