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Toddlers and learning to empathize

by Maxine
Posted December 17 2010 05:31pm
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When you are the parent of a toddler, you might wonder how you can teach your child to empathize with others as she gets older.

The ability for a preschool child to sympathize and empathize with others is influenced by a child's experiences - how she is treated by those around her, world events that she may hear about, and by the behaviour she observes toward others. A simple definition of empathy is the ability to recognize the emotions that another person is experiencing. Sympathy builds from empathy as a person will be moved to show concern or sadness in response to someone's emotional state.

For example, following many world disasters we often hear about young children demonstrating in many touching ways their capacity to empathize and sympathize with others in need.

As this capacity develops in your child, you may find your child:

  1. Asks more questions about how certain events or experiences make others feel.
  2. Asks you specifically how certain things make you feel.
  3. Begins to make some conclusions about how others might feel in certain situations.
  4. Begins to show both empathic and sympathetic behaviours during pretend play with a doll or playmate, e.g., says "Don't cry baby. Mommy will make it better."
  5. Begins to comfort and express concern for another individual.

Such behaviours are to be celebrated in children. This capacity is fundamental if we want our children to be caring, respectful and generous individuals. While world disasters bring our attention to warm-hearted examples of children who have created pictures to raise money for other children, parents need to be aware how this growing ability influences the different areas of a child's immediate world. The ability to empathize and sympathize affects:

  • A child's interactions and reactions to others
  • A child's belief about his /her ability to make a change on someone's behalf
  • A child's network of relationships
  • A child's current and future personality

Our ability as parents to support the development of this capacity is profound. Parents, who show sensitivity and responsiveness to their toddler's needs, have children who are more secure and pro-social in their relationships with other children. Here are some other parenting behaviours that contribute to building a child's capacity for empathy and sympathy:

  • Talk to children about how their behaviour makes other children feel, e.g., if a child hurts another child. Offer suggestions how to rectify the emotional situation;
  • Model caring behaviour toward others so that children can see how it makes other people feel;
  • Take time to discuss emotions and feelings associated with problems or situations; and
  • Take every opportunity to let children know they have the power to make another individual happy by showing them an act of kindness.

 

How do you teach empathy in your home? Leave a comment and share your story with parents just like you.

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Teaching your toddler to clean-up his toys

by Maxine
Posted December 17 2010 04:43pm
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Sometimes it seems to be impossible to get your toddler to clean up his toys. That is normal. Encouraging your child to cooperate and complete chores can sometimes be frustrating.

Try to avoid a battle of wills:

Warn your child ahead of time that "soon it will be time to tidy up."

Make it into a game or something you do together. For example, "how fast can we get the toys cleaned up?" or "let's put these toys to sleep" - make it something you can enjoy together. Cleaning up doesn't have to be the end of your fun together or the end of play.

Encourage your child to participate in making decisions. For example, allow your child to choose between picking up the stuffed animals or putting away the blocks. Allowing him to have some choice will communicate to your child that you respect his individuality. If children feel that they have some control, then they are more likely to cooperate.

Recognize your child's contribution toward helping clean up and acknowledge her positive behaviours.

Remember to set limits and be consistent. It may seem easier to clean up yourself, rather than taking the time to make sure your child participates in chores. However, this creates the risk of encouraging further stalling and delays during clean-up in the future. Be patient and remember that learning to complete chores cheerfully takes a long time.

 

How did you encourage your toddler to clean up his toys? What worked and what didn’t? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you.

 

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Preschoolers and learning to empathize

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 06:37pm
Filed under:

The ability for a preschool child to sympathize and empathize with others is influenced by a child's experiences - how she is treated by those around her, world events that she may hear about, and by the behaviour she observes toward others. A simple definition of empathy is the ability to recognize the emotions that another person is experiencing. Sympathy builds from empathy as a person will be moved to show concern or sadness in response to someone's emotional state. 

For example, following many world disasters we often hear about young children demonstrating in many touching ways their capacity to empathize and sympathize with others in need.

As this capacity develops in your child, you may find your child:

  1. Asks more questions about how certain events or experiences make others feel. 
  2. Asks you specifically how certain things make you feel. 
  3. Begins to make some conclusions about how others might feel in certain situations. 
  4. Begins to show both empathic and sympathetic behaviours during pretend play with a doll or playmate, e.g., says "Don't cry baby. Mommy will make it better." 
  5. Begins to comfort and express concern for another individual. 

Such behaviours are to be celebrated in children. This capacity is fundamental if we want our children to be caring, respectful and generous individuals. While recent world disasters have brought to our attention to warm-hearted examples of preschoolers who have created pictures to raise money for other children, parents need to be aware how this growing ability influences the different areas of a child's immediate world. The ability to empathize and sympathize affects:

  • A child's interactions and reactions to others 
  • A child's belief about his /her ability to make a change on someone's behalf 
  • A child's network of relationships 
  • A child's current and future personality 

Our ability as parents to support the development of this capacity is profound. Parents, who show sensitivity and responsiveness to their infants' and toddlers' needs, have preschoolers who are more secure and pro-social in their relationships with other children. Here are some other parenting behaviours that contribute to building a child's capacity for empathy and sympathy:

  • Talk to children about how their behaviour makes other children feel, e.g., if a child hurts another child. Offer suggestions how to rectify the emotional situation; 
  • Model caring behaviour toward others so that children can see how it makes other people feel; 
  • Take time to discuss emotions and feelings associated with problems or situations; and 
  • Take every opportunity to let children know they have the power to make another individual happy by showing them an act of kindness. 

 

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About The Cry it Out Method

by Maxine
Posted August 18 2010 01:55pm
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Often friends and family will suggest that you “Let him cry it out.” And many parents do, even if their baby is just a few weeks old. So, what is it the Cry it Out method and when is it appropriate to use.

After several months of having your child wake you in the night with his cries, many parents are exhausted and looking for ways to make the nights easier. Often friends and family will suggest that you “Let him cry it out.” And many parents do, even if their baby is just a few weeks old. Other parents are advised to never let their baby cry it out because it will damage their emotional development, so they always get up and tend to their crying child.

Our experts believe there is a way to manage both techniques to help support your baby’s healthy development. When babies are only a few weeks old they are too young to sleep through the entire night without waking, so when is it appropriate to use the ‘Cry it Out’ approach and what are the alternatives?

Cry it Out is often referred to as the Ferber approach because it was originated by Dr. Richard Ferber
. The approach assumes that babies learn to fall asleep on their own, just like they learn to feed themselves. Advocates of this approach see sleeping through the night as a skill that babies can master if their parents give them the opportunity.

Advocates believe that if your child is used to having you rock him all the way to sleep, he won’t fall asleep on his own. The same applies if your baby always falls asleep while nursing. If your child wakes during the night – as all children and adults do as part of the natural sleep cycle – he’ll cry for you to help him get back to sleep, rather than just go back to sleep by himself.

Dr. William Sears advocates the Attachment Parenting approach. Dr. Sears is opposed to letting babies cry without an immediate response from caregivers. He and many other experts argue that if you do this, it threatens your baby’s trust in you and his sense of safety and security in the world.

Our experts have looked at both sides of the debate and believe that if you are interested in trying the Cry it Out method you should wait until your baby is at least 6 months old. It might even be preferable to wait until your baby is 9 months or older. This opinion is based on many developmental factors of infants, but you need to decide what is appropriate for your own baby and your family.

“Sometimes you can look at other options before choosing to try the Cry it Out method,” says Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert. “First and foremost, establish good going to sleep habits. A good bedtime routine is predictable and benefits both parents and babies. If you have a good going to sleep routine it can reduce the amount of crying at night.”

Our experts also suggest that you try night weaning before trying Cry it Out. It’s too much for your baby to lose both a feeding and connecting with you at the same time. At about 5 months most babies will start feeding about 4 times during the day with a feeding just before bed and should be able to go without a middle of the night feeding.  Reduce the night feeding to as little as possible before starting the Cry it Out method.

You should also consider your baby’s temperament. How successful any approach will be can depend on how your baby responds. If your baby craves physical contact with loved ones, it will be more difficult to be successful with Cry it Out. Few babies are truly “high needs” in this regards so many babies will do well with either approach or something in between.


Did you use Cry it Out? Or did you practice Attachment Parenting? Or did you do something totally different? Leave a comment below and share your story with parents just like you!

 

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