In a remote village nestled amidst the arid landscapes of Rajasthan, Chahat, a four-year-old girl, initiates a transformative journey of self-discovery. Chahat’s loving parents, Rukmani and Pratap Singh, whose dreams were constrained by financial limitations and limited access to education, find hope in their daughter’s life.
Chahat’s mother, Rukmani, and father, Pratap Singh, share the aspirations of countless parents – to provide their children with the best possible start in life. However, their lack of formal education and the remoteness of their village meant that they were unaware of the concept of “social-emotional learning” (SEL) until it entered their lives surprisingly and heartwarmingly.
This poignant story of Chahat’s family is not an isolated incident but a reflection of a broader reality. According to a UNICEF report, over 43% of children under the age of five in India are at risk of not fulfilling their full developmental potential.
Chahat’s parents’ introduction to SEL came through Chahat’s daycare (Anganwadi) worker, Surekha, who had recently attended a training workshop conducted by Rocket Learning. This workshop opened Surekha’s eyes to the profound importance of SEL in a child’s development.
An example of a Anganwadi Training Workshop in Rajasthan
She realized nurturing Chahat’s emotional intelligence was as vital as academic education and a prerequisite to stimulating learning. She could now understand how important it is for a child to feel emotionally safe, stable and secure to handle, prepared and open to learning, which is a responsibility that the adult caregivers need to shoulder by their actions and also by empowering children to play an active role in understanding, expressing and managing their emotional needs.
At a parent-teacher meeting, Chahat’s parents expressed their concerns to Surekha. They confessed that there were times when Chahat threw tantrums, and they felt helpless in managing her emotions. They had heard from various sources that scolding a child during a tantrum was not a lasting solution.
Surekha, armed with newfound knowledge, reassured Chahat’s parents. She understood their apprehensions, and with a warm smile, she began sharing the tangible tips she had learned during the SEL workshop:
1. Emotion Labeling: Surekha explained to Rukmani and Pratap Singh that one of the fundamental aspects of SEL was helping Chahat identify, understand, and express her emotions. They learned the importance of enabling a child to label and understand feelings as the first step towards managing them, and this was as simple as helping Chahat know how she is feeling in certain situations, such as saying, “I see that you are finding it difficult to fix your broken toy despite trying multiple times. Your fists are closed tight, eyebrows furrowed, and your body doesn’t seem at peace; perhaps you also feel like giving up, am I right? A feeling like this is called frustration.”
2. Mindful Observation and Active Listening: Surekha emphasized the value of being observant and active listening. She encouraged Chahat’s parents to carefully observe how Chahat behaves, her verbal and non-verbal gestures, body movements, mood etc., and reminded them that at Chahat’s young age, she might not have the vocabulary to express which makes it essential for her parents to help her understand and acknowledge behavioral changes, regarding them as signals for figuring if something is wrong. Besides this, listening attentively to their daughter’s concerns in her conversations and creating a safe space for her to express them was vital. This practice would help Chahat feel heard and valued.
3. Patience and Empathy: SEL taught Rukmani and Pratap Singh to be patient and empathetic towards Chahat’s emotional ups and downs. Instead of reacting with anger, they learned to respond with understanding and better manage their feelings.
4. Problem-Solving Together: Surekha shared the concept of problem-solving as a family. She suggested that when issues arose, the family could brainstorm solutions together, involving Chahat in the process and presenting choices on how a situation could be dealt with.
As weeks turned into months, Chahat’s parents noticed a remarkable transformation in their daughter. They began to draw connections between the tips shared by Surekha and the videos sent through Rocket Learning’s WhatsApp groups. These videos, previously seen as informative yet separate, now became integral to their understanding of SEL, and simple activities suggested in these videos became tools for practice to help empower Chahat in her journey towards emotional resilience.
Chahat, too, exhibited visible changes. Her tantrums reduced in frequency and intensity. She started expressing her feelings with words, whether joy, frustration, or curiosity and became better at managing these feelings. She became more attuned to the emotions of those around her, offering comfort when her parents were upset and celebrating their joys.
The Benefits of Socio-Emotional Learning for Young Children Under 8:
This journey into SEL brought forth numerous benefits for Chahat:
1. Improved Emotional Awareness: Chahat became more aware of her emotions, learning to label and express them appropriately.
2. Enhanced Communication: With active listening and empathy from her parents, Chahat’s communication skills flourished.
3. Reduced Tantrums: The family’s patient and empathetic approach significantly reduced Chahat’s tantrums.
4. Stronger Family Bonds: Problem-solving strengthens the family’s bond, fostering trust and cooperation.
5. Holistic Development: Chahat’s journey through SEL was about understanding and managing emotions and building a foundation for lifelong well-being.
In this remote corner of Rajasthan, a small family’s commitment to socio-emotional learning profoundly impacted Chahat’s life. As she continued to blossom emotionally, she carried the lessons learned in her early years, poised to face the world with resilience, empathy, and a heart filled with understanding. In Chahat’s story, we find the promise of a brighter future, where SEL illuminates the path to holistic development for every child.
This story, while inspired by real-life experiences, is an amalgamation of user testimonials, weaving together the narratives of countless families whose lives have been touched and reshaped by the Rocket Learning’s Anganwadi training program and behavioral change campaigns that empower community-wide change. In Chahat’s story, we find a compelling example, one that resonates with a larger truth: that emotional well-being is at the heart of holistic development and is pivotal in nurturing a child’s potential.
In an era marked by growing awareness of mental health and emotional well-being, the journey of Chahat and her family unveils the extraordinary potential of SEL in fostering resilience, empathy, and self-awareness. By explicitly connecting SEL with mental health awareness, we shed light on the interwoven threads of emotional intelligence, self-regulation, and a profound sense of belonging. As we follow Chahat’s path to emotional resilience, we discover that SEL is not just about understanding and managing emotions—it’s about building a foundation for lifelong well-being, a cornerstone of mental health awareness for children and adults alike.