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School-based Interventions to Improve Prosocial Behavior and Self-regulation

Social Emotional Learning

Social-emotional learning (SEL) refers to all of the skills that are involved in forming meaningful and cooperative relationships with others: critical thinking and problem solving, regulation of powerful emotions, respectful and articulate communication with others, understanding emotional behavior of others, and perhaps most important, empathy and compassion.   


Children trained in SEL are better able to make their way in the world. We all have strong (and often negative) emotions, but everyone benefits from being able to regulate emotions without acting in ways that cause them (or others) trouble.  At the same time, everyone needs to learn how to get along with others. Children who don’t develop these skills are more likely to have problems with anxiety and depression and are at greater risk to develop problems such as substance use. 


In recent years, educators have developed good ways to help young people develop the skills they need to understand their emotions and to build warm friendships with others.  


 One of the programs is the PAX Good Behavior Game which is now used in more than 30,000 classrooms worldwide. It has proven benefit in increasing children’s success in school and beyond.  You can see a video about it below. This program is particularly appropriate for grades K through 6. 


The other strategy is called Cooperative Learning. Over the past 50 years this program has been shown to improve academic success at the same time that it reduces harassment and bullying, increases minority students sense of belonging, and prevents the development of substance use. This program is appropriate for grades 4 through 12. You can see a video about it below.  

Imagine a world in which everyone was nurturing.  Where our foundational value was ensuring the wellbeing of those around us.  Where all families had the material wellbeing and social support needed to ensure their wellbeing.  Where schools were places that every child loved to be.  Where all businesses and corporations sought to ensure not just their investors’ wellbeing, but the wellbeing of their customers, employees, and their communities.  Where nations worked together to solve problems like climate change.  That's the vision this Action Circle (indeed, Values to Action) is trying to realize. 

Here's what this Action Circle is up to:

  • Identifying schools, teachers, parents, and community members interested in improving SEL

  • Selecting a program to implement at a classroom level and getting support from the school administration

  • Implementing the selected program while measuring SEL 

  • Writing a report to document its activities and outcomes. 

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