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What is it?

The ability to understand our own emotions, thoughts and values and how they influence ourselves

and others. It also involves  understanding your child's perspective.

How does it show?
  • Being able and encouraged to show and describe how we are feeling and how others feel.

  • Ask your child “what are you thinking and feeling now?” Make it an everyday approach.

  • Notice how we think and feel and how it changes the way we behave. Notice this in your child and help them become aware of the link between their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

What can we do to stimulate?
  • Notice what makes your child’s day; the things that we or others do and say to make your child feel happy or awesome.

  • Notice and understand the touchpoints for wellbeing, such as times of the day, activities that are enjoyed, and times for quiet.

  • Do more of ‘what works’: notice things or times that are triggers and use what you know makes your child tick.

  • Co-create (discover) with them ways to ‘flip’ what isn’t working so well.

Ernstige jongen





What is it?

Understanding your child's feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Enabling them by understanding what works for them and notice when this changes.

Modeling this for your child - letting them “see” how you are able to take this approach yourself.


How does it show?

Your child:

  • Recognises and mentions emotions (e.g. angry, sad, frustrated, excited, calm, pleasant);

  • Explains how their own emotions, thoughts and behaviour are related;

  • Recognises how they think shapes how they behave and has an effect on others;

  • Uses techniques to control urges and impulsive behaviour;

  • Prevention (e.g. counting to 10, breathing calmly from the abdomen);

  • Uses techniques to calm themself when situations escalate (e.g. moving away from the situation/trigger, talking to themselves gently);

  • Knows the impact of their behaviour on others;

  • Can name their part in a situation that got out of hand.

What can we do to stimulate?

Notice the link between feelings, thoughts and behaviours through understanding these 4 things:

  • Event: what is happening? E.g. notice your child is struggling, give them time-out or distract them to give them time to calm down and process the situation.

  • Thoughts: what are my thoughts about it?

  • Feelings: name the emotions you see in your child and in yourself. 

  • Behaviour: explain what you do to deal with these emotions.


  • Event: I don’t sleep well.

  • Thoughts: I want to go to bed.

  • Feelings: I feel tired and irritated.

  • Behaviour: I take 15 minutes of rest.


Parents can use these questions to review situations and model it to your child to learn from each new experience:

  • What have I learned?

  • What new ideas have I received?

  • What am I going to change?

  • What went well?

Image by Tengyart


Social awareness

What is it?

Our ability (parents and child’s) to consider each other's perspective and to understand the feelings, thoughts and behaviour of someone else.


How does it show?
  • Being able to show and understand how others are feeling.

  • Being able to understand and accept the  perspective of others.

  • Being able to ask how others are feeling and thinking.

  • Being able to see differences and similarities in the feelings of others.

What can we do to stimulate?
  • Watch the movie trailer of “inside out” and talk about it with your child.
    The animated film ‘Inside Out’ follows five personified emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Filmmakers consulted psychologists and neuroscientists in order to achieve greater accuracy in their portrayal of the mind. It can be a useful and enjoyable tool to help explore social awareness.

  • Use and recognise different emoticons.

  • Try to see things from your child's perspective, how might things look through their lens?

  • Make My Day Book: Year-6-children in Cornwall, UK have produced a book called “Make My Day”. They have also produced some postcards that ask two questions: “What makes your day?” and “How can you make someone else's day?”

Kids Spelen Tug of War
Relationship skills


Relationship skills

What is it?

The ability to form friendships and work well with other children and adults from different backgrounds. These are soft skills such as communication, collaboration, consideration and friendliness that we all need to build relationships.


How does it show?

These are some of the skills that we can model to and encourage in your child to help them to develop and manage relationships:

  • Listen to others fully to see things from their point of view.

  • Understand that everyone has something to offer.

  • Share ideas and feelings to be able to play and to work together.

  • Work things out when things are tricky between people.

  • Ask for help with friendships or when working together when needed.

  • Through everyday acts of kindness.

What can we do to stimulate?

Model these skills and practise them together:

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Non-verbal communication skills

  • Verbal communication skills

  • Listening skills

  • Empathy

  • Networking skills


Example: Active Listening:

  • Suspend other things you are doing.

  • Listen to the intention and feelings behind the words.

  • Be sincerely interested in what the other person is talking about.

  • Restate what the person said.

  • Ask clarification questions.

  • Be aware of your own feelings and existing opinions.

  • If you have to state your views, say them only after you have listened.

  • Encourage and practise kindness everyday.

Studenten tijdens de pauze


What is it?

A range of skills children learn over time. They are skills that regulate us; identifying and managing feelings and thoughts to steer behaviour.

As parents, we are role models. We help our children to learn how to become aware of and manage their feelings, thoughts and behaviours positively.

Self-regulation is like a captain on a ship that helps us to move in the right direction.

These skills help when anxiety makes it difficult for us or our children to manage thoughts and feelings, impacting behaviour.  Without self-regulation, behaviours may be less useful or successful.

How does it show?
  • Whenever we need to reach a goal, we need to regulate ourselves.

  • For example: being a good friend, learning new things, doing the right thing as a parent or handling a challenge. We need to do things in the right order.

  • First we think about the situation, then decide what to do, then take the first steps, and keep track of the right steps, until we finally reach the goal.

What can we do to stimulate?

We can:

  • Think about our feelings and thoughts and become more AWARE. We can think about different options before we act:

  • First PLAN, then move.

  • STOP for a while.

  • MONITOR the situation.

  • Consider different ALTERNATIVES.

  • Decide on STRATEGIES.

  • Look at how others do it.

  • Ask for assistance.

  • Do things together with your child.

  • Be a role model in self-regulation.

  • Reason with your children about different options, the steps they can take and follow up.

Image by Byron Sterk
Working memory


Working memory

What is it?

Working Memory (WM) is one type of memory we have. Our working memory allows us to store information temporarily while we do something else. When we need a particular bit of information for a task, we can retrieve it. It is closely related to attention and distraction. Working memory is important to draw on information we need to complete tasks and achieve goals.

How does it show?

We use working memory when we do an activity which requires keeping information in the memory while we are performing another task (example: mental calculation).

What can we do to stimulate?

There are many activities and games we can play with children in order to stimulate working memory.

  • Encourage them to practise memorising information.

  • Play board games which involve memory.

  • Children can also try this online, for example with this game of Simon Says.

Iceland January 2017_edited.jpg



What is it?

The ability to suppress inappropriate behaviour and ignore irrelevant stimuli or distractions. Inhibition can be conscious or subconscious and helps prevent impulsive actions.


How does it show?
  • Your child can finish an assignment even when there is noise.

  • Your child can wait for their turn e.g. in a game.

  • Your child stops playing when asked to.

What can we do to stimulate?
  • Playing boardgames with the family and explaining the rules of the game.

  • Helping your child by modelling: first think about a situation and then act.

  • Using a timer for structuring homework.

Image by Anne Nygård
Cognitive flexibility


Cognitive flexibility

What is it?

Cognitive flexibility is being able to adapt or change rules easily in new situations or switch from one way of thinking to another. We can learn to shift our thinking process to become more adaptable to the situation at hand. It is also the skill used to quickly and accurately switch between performing two (or more) different tasks.


How does it show?
  • Switching from playing to doing homework 

  • Working together: understanding the perspective of siblings 

  • Changing your approach if it doesn't work. 

What can we do to stimulate?
  • Use a time timer to indicate how long your child can play before moving on to homework, and vice versa.

  • Clearly explain the overview of the rules to your child e.g. calculation scheme, spelling agreements.

  • Make sure that your child is not distracted from their work (e.g. in a quiet place).




What is it?

Problemsolving is the ability to acknowledge a problem and come up with a plan to solve it.


How does it show?
  • Being able to solve a problem step by step.

  • Being able to talk to your child about a conflict between them and their friends.


What can we do to stimulate?
  • Discuss books with your child. What happened in the story? What solution was there? How would you have solved this?

  • Playing board games at home.

  • Hang 'growth-mindset-reminders' in a visible place and actively use them.

Growth mindset: the belief that your abilities are not set in stone; an openness to improving and growing.

  • Instead of..., try... :

I can’t do this ->  What do I have to learn?

I’m the best at this -> I’m getting better at this.

I don’t get this at all -> What do I need to understand this better?

I give up -> Let me try it in another way.

This is too hard for me -> It takes time and effort to learn this.

I made too many mistakes -> By making mistakes, I can learn.

I can’t do better than this -> I’ll keep trying.

I will never be as good as you are -> How did you get this done?

This is good enough -> can I do better?

Plan A is not working -> Luckily the alphabet has 25 other letters.

Example: If there is a conflict at home with a brother or sister, find out together what solutions are.


Problem solving
Image by Susan Q Yin
Planning and organisation


Planning and organisation

What is it?

The skills needed for planning work, make priorities in tasks your child does, be able to estimate time, and organise their work.

How does it show?

It shows when...

  • Making their school bag.

  • Preparing a big task (e.g. book presentation).

  • Making a plan for the week (school and hobbies).

  • Organising and doing homework.

  • Making arts or crafts.

  • Playing a board game.

What can we do to stimulate?
  • Help your child when making their book bag.

  • Ask to estimate the time needed for homework and give feedback,

  • Make a weekly plan with your child for their schoolwork and hobbies.

  • Visualise the school week.

  • Use a timer.

  • Help your child to organise their room.

  • Help your child estimate how much time is needed for each task.

Image by Laura Ockel
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