Commentary: Children and adults need life skills lessons now more than ever | Remark

You can see it everywhere: breakpoints and unregulated emotions on full screen.

From Will Smith’s reaction to the Oscars, explosions on planes from face masks, overworked and undersupported front-line workers, and screaming brawls at school board meetings — people are struggling.

Adults become unbalanced.

It is this bad adult behavior that makes me ask: what hope do we have for our children?

Children are in the midst of a mental health crisis – and a national emergency – as noted in recent advice from the US Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Teachers, parents and pediatricians are witnessing more extreme behaviors and serious mental health issues due to the ongoing pandemic.

We need to help our children cope. But first we have to put on our own oxygen masks.

Life skills – like learning to face challenges, learning from effort, building healthy relationships, solving and understanding problems, controlling and expressing emotions – are the air we need to catch our breath.

And when, as adults and adults, we practice these skills ourselves, our children also learn by watching and doing.

These are the tools for coping and healing. And the need is at its highest level.

Over the past few decades, social-emotional learning has grown from a belief to a trend and is now a validated, evidence-based practice that thousands of schools and districts have prioritized.

Millions of students have benefited from it. And it’s not just for kids.

Wings for Kids has spent 25 years taking the all-in-one learning approach.

We are a team of parents, teachers and principals to ensure that students see and feel how self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills have a positive impact on school now and employability later.

We know that learning starts at home, continues in the classroom, and improves after school, especially with an after-school program like Wings for Kids.

And we know that all students deserve this kind of support.

If we don’t start to equip adults and children with the tools to understand themselves and the world around them now, we will see even more trauma, grief, rage and stress.

We will be more out of control than ever.

Creating a safe space where children and adults can talk openly and freely about their feelings is a necessity. And working with parents, teachers and after-school service providers is paramount.

For 25 years, we’ve been advancing and championing the power of social-emotional learning. We have never given up on thinking about how a child feels, or for that matter, how adults feel.

At the heart of what makes us human is communication, belief in self and others, and the need to connect.

When we don’t feel those basic needs, well, you’ve seen what happens.

Brigitte Laird is the CEO of Wings for Kids.

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