Campus Life
Head of School- Blog

Suppporting Your Child's Social/Emotional Stability and Growth

Supporting Your Child’s Social/Emotional Stability and Growth
Dr. Steve Sherman, Head of School
A few weeks ago, I made a presentation to our Palm Valley parent community titled, “Supporting Your Child’s Social/Emotional Stability and Growth”. It centered around three main topics:
1) Discussing the child development stages of social/emotional health from birth through high school,
2) What parents can do to aid and support their child’s social and emotional health and growth, and
3) How schools, and Palm Valley School in particular, serve to support healthy social/emotional growth for their students.
 The stages of child development and how they were related to social and emotional health were discussed and are summarized in the charts below:
Birth to Kinder
(Toddlers: 0 to 5 yrs old)
Kinder – 5th
(Emerging Pre-Teen: 5 to 10 yrs old)
Middle School (Pre-Teen: 10 – 14 yrs old)
High School (Teenager: 15 – 19 yrs old)
Overall Focus
Senses – Taking in Information through sight, smell, feel, etc.
Fitting In – Routines, compliance
(Curiosity abounds)
Self – Testing boundaries
(Change is a constant)
Outside World & The Future
The Child is the center of the world
The Child belongs to a family or ‘group’
The Child is part of a close knit “pack”
The Child is a member of a global world
SEL Major Influencers
Limited to parents + immediate family
Family (Parents) + close friends
Friends + Social Media
Broad circle of friends + outside adults/social media
Parental Influence
Massive – Controls the child’s environment
Considerable – Models appropriate behavior
Some – Questioning Status Quo (Parents not always right)
Limited – Child seeks autonomy
Parental Location
Extremely Close
Distanced “Boomerang affect”
Faint – They want to Fly!
Child Identity
Unaware – But realizes there are others
A ‘school’ persona develops
Have multiple personas: School, Family, Online, Peers, etc.
Formed a preferred path/identity
Verbal: words and word pairs
(Visual communication is important)
Consistent verbal  – sharing
Writing/reading make their debut
May move towards the extreme: “chatting” or withdrawing
Less with family – More with the outside world
SEL Skills
Birth to Kinder
(Toddlers: 0 to 5 yrs old)
Kinder – 5th
(Emerging Pre-Teen: 5 to 10 yrs old)
Middle School (Pre-Teen: 10 – 14 yrs old)
High School (Teenager: 15 – 19 yrs old)
Limited – but eager to help
Caring about others and realizing that their words/actions impact others
Respect for others, Accepting responsibility for their words/actions
Respect, compassion, understanding for others
Carefully listens to adults
Listens, but may be distracted
Listens (Not just to what they like)
Active Listener
Learning to use/choose words to express themselves
Choosing positive, healthy words
Healthy, positive talking when it is appropriate
Taking initiative to speak – when appropriate
Struggling to learn them
Follows them
Follows, but questions
Less Important
Heavy parent/sibling connections
Parents/siblings/small groups (Belonging to a team matters!)
Developing healthy, mutually-supportive relationships
Creating healthy, mutually-supportive relationships that endure
Emotional Intelligence
Recognize and label emotions
Identifies more nuanced emotions such as shame, guilt, joy, etc. and needed skills such as grit, resilience, etc.
Learns to deal with setbacks
Seeks guidance on how best to navigate social situations. Develops Grit/Resilience and the “Disappointment Muscle”
Learns to navigate new challenges of anxiety, fear, etc.
Possesses grit/resilience &
Takes appropriate risks
The discussion on how parents can best support their child’s emotional stability and growth was based upon the book, “Raising Kids, Your Essential Guide to Everyday Parenting”, written by Sheri Wong, LCSW, and Olaf Jorgenson, EdD. Highlights of that discussion include the following points:
  1. Home is where kids practice and learn how to operate in the world
  2. A child’s Social/Emotional Learning is ALWAYS being shaped, from birth to early adulthood
  3. There isn’t one way to support SEL growth – approaches are different for every child – even within families
  4. Best parental practices include:

  • As parents, first sit down and discuss/decide what is important to you and then share those with your child
  • Don’t overwhelm them – Identify and focus on what is most important in that moment
  • Develop the ability to have conversation and decision-making processes that are without emotion
  • Remember that your child is acting in a normal age-appropriate way (see the charts above)
  • “Be curious, not furious” – ask questions to get more information
  • Be on the same side as your child. Seeking to control your child’s behavior casts them as adversaries to be outwitted
  • They need to know that you love them – even when you are upset or don’t agree with them
  • Keep things in perspective – “Don’t make a moment, an event”
  • Exercise their “Disappointment Muscle” – Setting reasonable limits is a loving act that provides them with tools or a template to react/cope with setbacks
  • Be clear and consistent about expectations and limits
The presentation closed with a discussion of the role that schools and Palm Valley play in helping students develop healthy social/emotional traits. Schools provide the following supports for student social/emotional growth:
  • Structure and Stability - The routines of school help provide consistency and expected community norms that are predictable and supportive
  • Opportunities for both healthy risk and failure
  • Experienced, dispassionate adults that both model and serve as guardrails for student behavior, decisions, and actions
  • Tiered opportunities for student voice and autonomy
At Palm Valley, we support our students’ social and emotional health and growth in a variety of ways including:
  • Clearly communicated non-negotiable standards for student behavior
  • An appropriate balance of structure when needed and flexibility when warranted
  • Our Preschool SEL curriculum: Second Step Learning
  • The use of Restorative Classroom and daily community gatherings such as Morning Moments in our Lower School
  • Our advisory program, our new partnership with The Social Institute, and community gatherings such as Morning Soar in our Middle and Upper Schools
The support of all students’ social and emotional growth is a shared goal of both parents and Palm Valley School staff and faculty. It is our sincere hope that this blog helps to support that goal.
Palm Valley Private School occupies 34 acres in Rancho Mirage with stunning mountain views. The campus features separate campuses and buildings for each of our four divisions – Preschool (ages 18 months to 5), Elementary (Grades K-5), Middle School (Grades 6-8), and High School (Grades 9-12), along with a full-size gymnasium, several separate recesses and athletic fields, a black box theater and smart lab.