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Parenting determines social skills

According to Lynn Stanton–Riggs, empathy through emotional regulation, or emotional regulation through empathy, will determine how a child will develop social skills. Stanton-Riggs, associate professor of education, presented her research on “Parenting and Teaching Our Children: Empathy, Emotional Regulation and Social Skills” Nov. 19 in the President’s Dining Room as a part of the ongoing faculty lecture series. / photo by Katherine Careaga

According to Lynn Stanton–Riggs, empathy through emotional regulation, or emotional regulation through empathy, will determine how a child will develop social skills. Stanton-Riggs, associate professor of education, presented her research on “Parenting and Teaching Our Children: Empathy, Emotional Regulation and Social Skills” Nov. 19 in the President’s Dining Room as a part of the ongoing faculty lecture series. / photo by Katherine Careaga

Erica Maurice
Staff Writer

Lynn Stanton-Riggs, associate professor of education, led the faculty lecture on “Parenting and Teaching Our Children” Nov. 19 in the President’s Dining Room.

In her lecture she covered three important aspects that deal with children’s behaviors: empathy, emotional regulation and social skills.

Ten years ago Stanton-Riggs spent every Friday at the development center at Fairplex.

“Children behaved a little different in a educational setting from then my children who are now in their 30s,” Stanton-Riggs said.

Stanton-Riggs used a conflict resolution model with the kids.

“It worked for a while but then the children went back to bad behaviors,” Stanton-Riggs said.

She explained that when children are being taught they can tell if the person who is teaching them does understands the material.

“We have to have emotional regulation before teaching it to students,” Stanton-Riggs said. “So we trained 12 teacher volunteers and we trained them extensively.”

The process was mostly observation of the teachers.

Stanton-Riggs told a story about a teacher she was observing one day.

She said when a young man was assigned a child, there was a 3-year-old autistic child swinging on this mirror. When the teacher saw the student, he froze up and had no idea what to do.

Stanton-Riggs stepped in to help and the teacher replied saying that was why he was doing her class because he had no idea what to do.

Research for this project started in August and will finish in June 2013.

There are 60 teachers, 12 sites, 600 parents, and 1080 students participating.

The ages range from preschool to sixth grade.

Stanton-Riggs anticipates an improvement in student teacher interaction, increase in positive social skills, and changes in test scores. Also, it will have an increase in use of structure, routines and rituals.

Stanton-Riggs showed three examples that will help regulate children’s behavior such as raising hands before talking, helping friends when they are sad, and playing games.

She emphasized that this process can not just be done in the classroom but the adults in the child’s life also need to practice it.

Stanton-Riggs explained how a person’s brain works with these ideas.

She said first there is an executive state where the person has a flight or fight mindset. Then the person has an emotional state. Finally there is a survival state where the child has control and can pull up empathy.

Exercises that parents can do with their children are as simple as breathing exercises.

“Breathing can take away the flight or fight for just a second,” Stanton-Riggs said.

When Stanton-Riggs explained how to teach empathy, she said it has to be taught in many different levels including globally, family and friends.

Teaching empathy is a great to have a “we care center.” This is a place where a child can go when feeling sad or they can take a friend their when he or she is feeling sad.

Having a safe place is also a good idea. This would be instead of a time-out space, the child would have to put themselves there for this to work.

It would be a place where the child would feel his or her best.

For this project, there will be educational surveys, fidelity implementation, parent surveys, and observer checklists.

“These are things that good teachers might already be doing, but we just didn’t have a name for it,” said Andy Steck, assistant professor of education.

“This is so that children know how to deal life and disappointment,” said Judy Krouse, assistant professor of child development.

“I think she did a fabulous job in representing what this can do to help children’s lives,” said Cindy Cary, associate professor in education and child development.

“A great site to learn more about this is lovingguidance.com.”

Stanton-Riggs will also be giving a keynote address at the Institute for Early Childhood Education Conference that is being held on campus in May.

Erica Maurice can be reached at erica.maurice@laverne.edu.

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