Social Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) of students: key factors, research and supporting skills

Rosa Cirrottola

As mature and fulfilled grown-ups, managing our thoughts, feelings and behaviours may seem a given. However, this cognitive skill which underpins our mental wellbeing is the result of learning social and emotional skills from a variety of interactions and environments since early childhood. Social emotional skills enable us to regulate and express our feelings appropriately and in turn manage our interactions with other people. ,Social and emotional skills are critical to building and maintaining self-esteem and confidence so it is no wonder that this skill set is so closely related to mental wellbeing.

Children’s social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) is often referred to as social and emotional literacy. It is a key component of their mental health as it enables them to learn and thrive across the early years into adolescence and young adulthood. As much as the children’s individual innate qualities contribute to their SEWB, some external factors are just as important in shaping their emotional wellbeing, mainly their relationships and interactions with their family, school and community environments.

A recent study carried out by ,‘You Can Do It! Education’ - a programme for promoting student social-emotional wellbeing across schools in Australia and overseas, founded by University of Melbourne Professor Michael E. Bernard - has highlighted how a young person’s level of social and emotional wellbeing is determined by a combination of these key factors:

  • quality of parenting
  • engagement at school
  • community connectedness
  • character, attitudes and social-emotional skills.

Very interestingly, the research shows that young people with higher level of SEWB develop better connections with their outside world which results in a wider range of social, emotional and learning skills in their inside world. These students therefore learn a skill set that equips them with all the required qualities to enjoy life, maintain positive relationships and work towards their life (and academic) goals.

Students with well developed SEWB are more likely to develop a secure sense of self and self-belief which helps them navigate life challenges, cope with stress and stay committed to their goals. The security and confidence in self which comes with well developed SEWB also supports student learning as it helps students manage new and novel learning tasks and navigate difficult situations at their very best.

Chart showing components in young people with high SEWB

How do we support Social and Emotional Wellbeing?

Research shows that children who are actively taught social and emotional skills are better able to manage difficult emotions, have the ability to empathise, are more open to other perspectives and better able to collaborate with others.

Researchers have described the following key social and emotional skills to target and teach children to support SEWB:

  1. Self confidence
  2. Positive relationships with peers and adults
  3. Concentration and persistence on challenging tasks
  4. Effective communication of emotions
  5. Ability to listen and be attentive
  6. Novel situation problem solving.

The most effective way of teaching children these skills is an intentional approach through regular and frequent lessons and activities which explicitly reference the skills. Research tells us that short, medium and long term programmes in this area are shown to be effective; however, there is growing evidence that programmes of greater intensity and duration have a larger positive effect.

At Komodo, we make student wellbeing visible through a variety of innovative tools. Through our custom solutions, schools can utilise all the data collected about individual students to encourage them to reflect on their own overall wellbeing performance - including the social and emotional aspects tracked. They can then set their wellbeing goals to pursue throughout the academic year. This would enable students to work on their weaknesses and keep improving their strengths.

Get in touch with us to discuss how we can help your staff and students master their social and emotional wellbeing.