SEL Competencies

Hello again from guest blogger, Lisa Robinson!  Let’s explore how to improve our abilities in the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) competencies as characterized by CASEL at .  In this post, we’ll cover Self-Awareness and Self-Management.  (Next week’s post will cover the remaining three competencies).

This discussion will focus on how adults (teachers, parents, others) can improve their own SEL competencies.  It’s important for us to begin by understanding where we have strengths and opportunities, and then take intentional action to make improvements.  We can use this personal experience to most effectively support others who will benefit from enhancing their SEL competency.


In this competency, you accept responsibility for your own emotions and thoughts, and understand their influence on behavior.   If you are skilled in this competency, you demonstrate knowledge of your own strengths, weaknesses, and personal preferences.  You express your emotions skillfully and appropriately.

However, if you’ve ever been surprised by how you behaved in reaction to something or felt as if you were out of control, it doesn’t mean that you’re unable to make positive changes.  The key is in understanding what drives your behavior and then making a conscious choice instead of simply reacting.

To improve on your self-awareness, mindfulness can be a great tool.  Meditation, following your breathing, and exercising are just a few options that can help you to focus on the present and become more grounded.  Taking time to reflect on what you experience each day can also be very helpful.  You’ll want to think about the different things that happened through the day and what you learned from each.  Pay special attention to anything that you would do differently and why.  Writing down these thoughts or typing them on a computer or mobile device can be especially useful.


Here is where you demonstrate the ability to regulate your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations.  Being skilled in this competency means that others observe you being calm and patient, even when you’re experiencing a challenging situation.

Improving your self-management requires you to first understand that your emotions are your interpretation of events.   Could your interpretation be incorrect?  Chances are that if you react impulsively to others’ behavior and do not seem aware of how your thoughts about the situation affect your emotions and actions, you will benefit from improving your self-management competency.

Choose to not be at the mercy of your impulses.  For a couple of weeks, keep track of any impulsive reactions you experience.  Break your reactions into pieces so you can evaluate them: What happened before your reaction?  What happened at the time you reacted, and what did you do?  Did you get the results you really wanted?  By tracking these details, you can gain understanding of the emotional triggers connected to impulsive reactions.  Over time, awareness of these triggers can help you emotionally step back and choose your response instead of feeling as if you have no control.


What if I Try to Change but Make Mistakes?

This is not easy work to do, and it’s important to acknowledge that.  You may still trip up on issues that trigger you.  However, if you keep working at it, over time it gets easier and your awareness is heightened.  You’ll be less likely to lose control and react inappropriately.  Seeing the benefits of choosing more effective behaviors can keep you motivated to take the time to slow down.  Then, avoid reacting in the moment by mindfully choosing more effective ways to behave.

If you have any feedback or questions, please either comment here or email me directly at .

In my next post, we’ll be reviewing Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making.  Until then, be mindful of the behavior choices you make, and have a great week.