How Parents Can Boost Social and Emotional Learning At Home

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a hot topic in schools these days. Why? Not only is there good research to show its effectiveness in the areas of mental health, social skills, and academic achievement, but it also makes good sense. According to the NBC News State of Parenting Poll, 54% of parents reported strong social and communication skills as the most important contributors to their child’s future success – more important than any other skill sets! Why shouldn’t schools be fostering social and emotional skills, and why shouldn’t parents be taking an interest in it?

What is SEL? According to, SEL is made up of evidence-based practices that highlight the way we understand, use, and manage emotions to learn. Put another way, it’s the process by which we acquire and apply knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to:

  1. Understand emotions
  2. Set and achieve goals
  3. Feel and show empathy for others
  4. Establish and maintain health relationships
  5. Make responsible decisions

These may seem like diverse skills, but they are quite connected in everyday life. In fact, SEL is made up of five interrelated cognitive, effective, and behavioral competencies. Let’s examine each competency and some tips for parents to foster these skills:

Self-Awareness – The ability to recognize our own emotions, thoughts, and values, and how they influence behavior. It’s also the ability to accurately assess our strengths and limitations with a sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset” (which means through effort and good teaching, our talents and skills can improve). Here are a few ways to help facilitate self-awareness:

  • Take time to identify or talk about feelings each day
  • Teach new words for feelings and tie them to experiences and facial expressions
  • Use books or TV to point out more complex emotions
  • Help your child recognize his/her strengths and abilities
  • Talk about your own emotions and how certain situations make you feel as a parent

Social Awareness – The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. It also includes the capacity to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports. Here are suggestions to help facilitate social awareness:

  • Read books and point out how characters may be feeling
  • Talk about real-life social interactions (the cashier’s body language, tone, eye contact)
  • Expose your child to people who are different than themselves and teach how to appreciate new perspectives
  • Truly listen to your child (“When I think about it like that, I can see where you’re coming from”)
  • Talk about social issues such as immigration, discrimination, and bullying
  • Set rules about social life together (curfew, dating, consequences)

Relationship Skills – The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. It also includes proficiency in communicating clearly, listening well, cooperating with others, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed. Here are a few ways to help facilitate relationship skills:

  • Model healthy relationships with other adults in front of your children
  • Teach conversation skills (eye contact, first impressions, asking questions)
  • Teach conflict resolution skills
  • Talk about what makes a good friend and what does not
  • Notice your child’s social cues and point them out (especially incongruencies in words behavior)
  • Discuss peer pressure and respectful behavior including online behavior

Responsible Decision-Making – The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. It also includes realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions and a consideration of the well being of  our selves and others. Here are a recommendations to encourage responsible decision-making:

  • Allow your child to make choices early on
  • Teach how different rules apply in different contexts (quiet voice in library, cheering at soccer game)
  • Point out decisions made by book characters and discuss
  • Verbally walk through your own decision-making process as a model
  • Teach how to make amends (if you break someone’s toy, you apologize, offer to fix it )
  • Reinforce independent and safe decisions your child makes
  • Discuss what it means to be accountable

The bottom line is that, as your child grows, social and emotional skills matter. These skills will impact relationships and success in school, work, and various groups/activities along the way. Some skills need to be taught systematically and explicitly, but the wonderful thing about SEL is that so much can be embedded naturally into our daily interactions with our children and with them watching us. Did we model appropriate behavior with the mail carrier or taxi driver? Do we follow through and hold ourselves accountable? Are we practicing healthy stress and anger management techniques? Do we reflect on the way we interact with others around us? Parenting is not easy, and we’re constantly learning new ways to improve for the sake of our children. Being mindful of SEL in your own life may take some practice but will pay off in the long run. Not just for you, but for your child, too!

If you need help implementing SEL into your family routines and interactions, remember to reach out to Rethink and take advantage of your free teleconsultation services with our clinical team at



Study shows parent training is more effective than education to successfully address behavioral problems.

A new JAMA Original Investigation article shared the results of a randomized clinical trial on the effects of Parent Training vs Parent Education on behavioral problems in children with autism spectrum disorder. Behavioral problems exist in as many as 50% of the children who exhibit Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), making treatment programs and any daily living task even more difficult. For a parent, who is usually not educated in Behavior Analysis, it may be difficult to manage your child when these behaviors are present.

A recent study has compared training a parent to educating a parent on how to manage these behavioral problems. The question; Will simply explaining how to intervene produce better results or is it more effective demonstrating how to intervene?

The study was conducted over 24-weeks and used a sample of 180 children with ASD, between the ages 3-7, who were randomly assigned among the two groups.For the group receiving training, parents received eleven 60 to 90-minute individual sessions (with the option of two additional), six parent-child coaching sessions, two in-home visits, and two telephone sessions over 24 weeks.

The second group, being educated, received twelve 60 to 90-minute sessions with one home visit over 24 weeks and a manual including therapist scripts and parent handouts. These sessions did not include any instruction. As metrics, three behavior tools were used to grade the two groups. The first being the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC). Each group was graded on the Irritability sub- scale where parent training yielded a 47.7% decrease in behavioral problems compared to parent education’s 31.8% decrease.

The second tool was The Home Situations Questionnaire– Autism Spectrum Disorder where parent training saw a 55% decrease in behavior problems while parent education provided a 34.2% decrease.

Finally, the Clinical Global Impressions– Improvement Scale resulted in a 68.5% improvement in behavior problems for participants who underwent training in comparison to parent education’s 39.6% improvement rate.

Although both methods provided positive results, the rate of positive response judged by a blinded clinician was greater for parent training vs parent education.

The full JAMA study can be viewed here:


The Rethink Difference

Rethink Benefits provides the training parents need to effectively address behavioral issues. We do so by providing parents with access to our platform and resources, in addition to time with our certified behavior therapists, leveraging decades of experience. With over 1,500 training videos and lessons designed specifically for parents, we work with caregivers to ensure they know how to teach their child critical skills and abilities, in the comfort of their own home. With better resources, access to trained therapists, and an action plan, parents are less stressed, and ultimately more productive.


©2018 Rethink Benefits. Discover more at

A Tale of Two Success Stories: Unique Benefit Strategies for Fortune 50s

Rethink recently hosted a webinar with two partners, Costco Wholesale & The Home Depot. Each discussed unique communication and implementation strategies they’ve deployed to successfully engage with and support their employees who are caring for an individual with a developmental disability.

(View the entire webinar at

“I can’t think of hardly any benefits we’ve ever added to our suite that got so much attention and so many letters to our president thanking him for bringing Rethink on and what a difference it was going  to make in their lives. We even got letters from people whose kids were grown who had amassed tens of thousands of dollars of debt to provide their children ABA therapy when they were younger and those parents were even saying this doesn’t help me but I’m so glad that other employees are now going to be helped so it was just a grateful group of these folks who needed this help.”— Donna Sexton, Costco Wholesale

“We have always had a very strong compassion and support for autism as well as other Developmental Disabilities, ever since I joined the Home Depot 12 years ago we covered the gamut of available  services  for all types of Developmental Disabilities and so when we first learned of Rethink it wasn’t a matter of “If” it was only a matter of “when” and “how” we would be able to offer it.”— Ann Marie Kelly, Home Depot


©2018 Rethink Benefits. Discover more at

Rethink Benefits Highlights


“I think it’s a great resource and benefit for parents of children with behavioral challenges. It would not necessarily be right for every employee (e.g., single, no kids), but is useful for those who fit the demographic.”

“Our daughter has Down syndrome and is developing her language skills more slowly than her typical peers. We are having success with flash cards and I like the possibilities that exist with the various printable materials on the site.”

Activision Blizzard

“You can work at your own pace and set specific goals you want to focus on. If you ever run into an issue you need help with, you can easily set up a phone appointment. The videos are key as well.”  


“Since I’ve been using rethink it has helped my two boys tremendously. Their reading wasn’t the best but since we’ve begun the rethink program it has been a great help. I am forever grateful for us guys.”

It’s a valuable resource because it had a variety of learning material for kids in different age groups and with different learning disabilities.”  

“ this program has given my boys the confidence to be successful in their reading and communication when they are faced with a problem they don’t understand.”

©2018 Rethink Benefits. Discover more at

Did you know? Nearly 20% of your Workforce are Caring for a Child with a Developmental Disability.

Many employees caring for someone with a developmental disability aren’t comfortable disclosing or discussing their related personal challenges. Studies show that suffering in silence can dramatically affect their emotional health, and lead to an average of 250 hours of lost productivity each year. Given the proper training, these caregivers can address daily challenges and effectively teach their child the skills they need.

Simply click on an image to download the full infographic!

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted that parents caring for a child with special needs, may feel that they are at higher risk for employment discrimination and termination. 37% say that it is hard to take time off work when issues arise, and 39% report that it jeopardizes their advancement. 27% report they have been terminated due to care responsibilities and almost half (48%), have quit to care for a child with special needs. Employees don’t need to continue to suffer in silence.

Parents caring for a child with special needs face critical gaps in health plan and EAP coverage. Bridging these gaps can make the difference between a child and family thriving or just surviving. Substantial gaps include; parent and caregiver specific training, behavioral intervention and expert behavioral support, plus key accessibility for extended family, friends, care providers and other support members.

Parents and caregivers of a child with special needs face huge work life balance challenges that result in dips in both health and productivity. Parents and caregivers can face 2X the medical costs, a 50% higher spike in stress (almost two-thirds of doctor’s office visits are stress related), higher divorce rates and a loss of up to 250 hours in work productivity.

A new study shows that parent training is more effective than education to successfully address behavioral problems of children with developmental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Training caregivers provided an additional 20% decrease in behavioral problems. Fewer challenges for parents and caregivers meansreduced stress and less time away from work.

Rethink provides an affordable and effective solution that complements your current wellness plan by bridging the gaps not usually addressed. By providing the support parents and caregivers need, we reduce stress and reassure them that they are not alone. Since education is not enough to reduce daily challenges, we provide ongoing at-your-fingertip training that gives parents and caregivers the practical tools and training they need to help their child succeed, ultimately increasing productivity.


©2018 Rethink Benefits. Discover more at