In light of the events of last week, it is with a heavy heart that I write this blog post.  While I can’t imagine the level of pain and hurt that those families are experiencing, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone whose lives are forever changed by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  As a father myself, I empathize with those who have lost loved ones as I can’t imagine life without my boys.

Whenever there’s an event like this, the natural reaction is to ask “why?”  Why did this occur?  Why did so many families lose loved ones?  What was the shooter’s motive?  What set him off?

Even more importantly, what could have been done to prevent this tragedy?

Foster Stability with Social Emotional Learning

While I’m not going to say that I have a magic formula to avoid school shootings, I do know that social/emotional skills play a much larger role than we typically understand.

There was a recent research report done on the impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning skills in child development.  Among the findings, the study found that students who engaged in social/emotional learning programs exhibited:

  • Greater Social Skills
  • Less Emotional Distress
  • Better Attitudes
  • Fewer Conduct Problems
  • More Frequent Positive Behaviors

While we can’t go back in time and stop what has happened, we CAN change the future.  We can make sure that next generation of students knows how to respond appropriately to a bully so they don’t get “pushed over the edge”.  We can make sure that our kids know how to deal with stress in a positive way.

Real World Learning for Real World Events

Too often, we treat the symptom instead of the disease.  We need to take an honest look at ourselves and assess where we are falling short in preparing our children for life.  For most, it’s not the academics that they lack.  Academics will only take you so far.  What will really determine whether or not a student is successful is not their, IQ, but their EQ – their emotional intelligence.  Emotional Intelligence is much more far-reaching and covers every area of life.  For example, how do you deal with someone picking on you?  How do you deal with an angry co-worker?  THESE are the success skills that our kids need and too often fail to receive.

We need to do a better job preparing our kids for life outside of a perfect, closed environment.  They need to know what to do when confronted with the cold, hard reality of the “real world”.

Our future – their future – depends on it.