Empathy is the skill to understand the world from another person’s point of view and then to act based on that understanding. It may be hard to believe but empathy starts young. After experiencing a particularly trying day, tears ran down my cheeks. It did not take more than a minute for my 3-year old daughter to grab a towel and begin to wipe them away. This was her way of showing empathy for me, her mother. I was touched by her actions and hoped she would keep this sweet quality forever.
As parents we can assist our children in developing and fostering empathy. Below are six creative ways where you and your child can begin to take the risk together.
Frustration and anger often marks itself as shoving, hitting, and other aggressive behaviors in children. Teaching children how to handle their feelings reduces aggressive behaviors by giving them alternative openings. Children who display aggressive behaviors need support and direction to help them manage their behaviors and responses in different situations and environments. Although many children have occasional outbursts of anger and aggression, the children who have the support of parents who moderate and channel their children’s aggression towards healthy development will be able to operate with the skills to express their emotions and behaviors in a healthy way.
In today’s media we hear more and more about the negative effects bullying has on Americas youth. As parents we do everything we can to protect our kids from help becoming the victim of bully behavior, but what if our teen is the bully? Here are 4 signs to look for and ways to empower your teens to take a stand against bully behavior.
As a school psychologist working in a high school, I have the privilege of interacting with a multitude of people – adults and adolescents alike – with a common purpose; to help each other do their best each day at school and when the school day is through. Each time a parent, student, or teacher courageously walks into my office or picks up the phone to contact me, initiating some level of support, there is a striking similarity to most all referrals that come through my doorway. Regardless of the nature of the situation requiring help or support, it is almost certain that the people involved feel a sense of isolation – often deeply so – as if they are completely alone. For any of us who have felt that sense of isolation, how much courage it takes to reach out and ask for help ! Sincerely, be it a parent asking for feedback from a teacher, a teacher asking for help from a school psychologist, or an adolescent asking help from anyone is incredibly difficult.
Monette Cash, LCSW leads our DBT Women’s Group. A 3-series skills group that teaches basic skills such as how to manage your emotions so they don’t control your life, how to cope effectively with difficult relationships, and learning how to react calmly rather than impulsively in order to avoid unhealthy escapes. This 3 module skill group will run in 6 week segments and
all are necessary to have lasting success. Register Now!
Do you feel that you have a fire child? Parents of children identified as suffering from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) sometimes do. They may wish that their child was more identified with the properties of water – seemingly calm and serene.
Dr. Stephen Scott Cowan, in his book “Fire Child, Water Child: How Understanding the 5 types of ADHD can help you improve your child’s self-esteem & attention” encourages parents, as well as practitioners, to view their ADHD-identified child as one of the “five primal powers described in Chinese medicine as Wood, Fire,Earth, Metal, and Water” (p. v). The first line of the introduction in Cowan’s book, “ADHD is a symptom, not a disease,” sets the tone for the remainder of the book.
He explains that caregiver interactions with children identified as ADHD are less successful when they come from a place of fear. Fear uses words like “something is wrong with my kid,” or “what can you do to fix him/her?” While Cowan admits that the ability to pay attention in class is definitely a problem, he disagrees that it is the problem and it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with a child. He shares how focusing on the problems a child exhibits will bring up feelings of judgment, guilt, and fear for both the child and the caregivers in his or her life. He instead chooses to direct the reader’s attention to what they ultimately want to see the child experience in the school setting: success. He suggests that we can learn to develop a “sense of compassion for the diverse ways in which we engage with the world” and recognize “the qualities each child has to offer” (p. 1) in attempts to manage the natural gifts of a child’s personality. When we embrace and nurture these natural gifts, they can become strengths that aid in improving focus for the classroom setting.
What are the natural gifts of a child’s personality? Usually these are the behaviors that teachers observe in the school setting that are discussed in parent-teacher conferences and lead to a visit to the pediatrician’s office for a medical assessment. Behaviors such as being always on the move, active, easily frustrated (wood child); overly social, class clown, mood swings, impulsivity (fire child); worried or indecisive when stressed by the environment (earth child); difficulty shifting out of routine or moving from task to task (metal child); daydreaming, easily distracted and hard to keep on task (water child).
Dr. Cowan maps out the path toward improving attention so that children can enjoy school and function effectively at home. He enlists the support and love of parents and caregivers who have control over the home environment to create the first influences that can be shared with other caregivers and teachers to maintain behaviors in the structured school setting. Dr. Cowan’s goal to educate and empower parents, caregivers, and teachers to understand the ways of holistically viewing their children through the 5 primal elements is clear – when we validate the qualities that children possess, we can bring them in tune with their world and help them learn the self-regulation skills necessary for success.
Whether your child is diagnosed with ADHD or not, the qualities that make them unique can sometimes contribute to struggles in the school setting. Utilizing Cowan’s 5 Types of ADHD may help you learn to embrace these qualities and identify strategies to nurture them to the benefit of your child’s ability to focus. Additional skills for focusing in the classroom can only lead to good things. As we transition into the end of the school year, this summer may be a great time to tune in with your child and create a path for improved focus and success at home as well as school!
I talked with caller “Mike” on Todd and Erin Morning Show on Rewind 100.7 FM about how he and his ex-wife disagreed about how to discipline: his wife spanked and he disagreed with it. It ultimately ended their marriage.
How can you handle differences in discipline between parents? What are alternatives to spanking?
For help with parenting issues and family relationships in Salt Lake, Utah, and Davis Counties contact us
Do you ever feel like communication with your teen is going no where? Have you ever wondered if your teen has a mom/dad filter that blocks out everything you say? You’re not alone. My favorite tip to help build better communication patterns with families (and couples) is using the acronym G.I.V.E.
Dealing with the death of a family member or close friend can be a time of great challenge. One of the most difficult tasks following the death of a loved one is discussing and explaining the death with children and adolescents in the family. This comes at a time when parents and caregivers are dealing with their own grief, and may be drained of energy and emotions.