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Neighbors of Kane County

Exploring the art of (empathy-based) parenting

Sep 14, 2015 09:44AM ● By Neighbors Magazines

This week begins our new column:  “Exploring the Art of Parenting.”  Each week we will explore a different question and parenting issue - to consider options on parenting/caregiving practices we use, as well as those we might want to try, to best support our individual children.  Since children are cared for by different adults in their lives, “Parenting” will include caregiving by parents, grandparents/extended family, guardians and other key caregivers.

We will also invite your issues, and in responding, sometimes share tips from other parents on parenting techniques and responses they have found helpful.   Quick tip:  Be open to trying out & practicing new techniques, and finding joy in conquering new adult-child interactions which will help each individual child!

 QUESTION 1 - On EMPATHY:  When you were young, did you ever make a mistake or hurt yourself by accident in front of family or friends, and feel you would die of embarrassment?

How did the adults around you react?  Did they.....

a)   Make light of the situation without asking or really understanding what was bothering you?

b)   Assure you that things would be ok, and ask you why you were so upset - because they wanted to understand and support you (quietly, between you)?

c)   Connect with you via eye contact so you understood that they understood and everything would be fine?

d)  Laugh at you, making you feel bad about yourself, and tease you about it?

e)  Laugh with you, put an arm around you, and focus on something else, modeling to everyone else that it was nothing worth noticing?

f)   Tell others who were laughing at you that they were being inconsiderate and share that something similar had happened to you lately? Ask them to put themselves in your shoes?!

g)  Help you remove yourself from the situation so that you could collect yourself and return with dignity, or with the situation resolved?

h)  Ask then, or more privately later, if there was anything they could help you with?

Which responses demonstrate Empathy-Based Parenting?  Depending on the situation, and depending on the child - all of these could be positive (or mostly positive) parent interventions except which one?  (d) Laugh at you, making you feel  bad about yourself, and tease you about it.  

If you remember being a kid, and that happening, do you remember feeling betrayed by those who are supposed to love you and protect you, and probably shamed in front of others?  Being laughed at and teased has the potential to lower a child’s self-esteem.  Of course, depending on the child, you might share some light teasing back and forth when your child knows you don’t mean it, but be sensitive to how your child is receiving the teasing, especially when others are around.  Not only might your child start to lose confidence in themselves, to believe themselves clumsy or weak or stupid or less valued... but others might follow your lead, and continue the teasing.  Did you realize this could possibly even lead to others bullying your child?

 Thinking of each of your children, which response would be best for each?  How would they respond? So… as an Adult, which approach would you appreciate someone else using if you were in that situation with other adults watching?

Which of the other responses have the potential to help your child develop resiliency in difficult situations? to gain confidence and be empowered?  (b, f, g, h)  These are important ‘teaching moments’ that may help your child and others they interact with.  After all, we want our children to grow up with strong self-confidence to face a challenging world ahead, and we can contribute to making their worlds a better place as well.

Questions to discuss with your child to help them develop empathy for others (and you :) too), and these can be adapted for different aged children:

1)  Which children in your “class” are helpful or kind?

2)  What do they do that makes you feel they are helpful or kind?

3)  Are you kind to others?  What do you do that is helpful or kind?

4)  If someone feels bad, do you help make them feel better?  How?

The ICDP Program is based on developmental and humanistic psychology - supporting our development as parents and humans, in order for us to best support our children’s positive development and well-being.

Perceiving a child as a person means that we expect that infant [child] to have the same need to be loved, included, respected, and understood as we have. Furthermore, this means that we, as persons and social beings feel committed to treat her or him accordingly. This also implies the opposite, which we do not underestimate, humiliate, exclude and ignore, misinterpret and misjudge, but instead make an effort to look for the positive in the same way as we would like to be considered and perceived by others (see Vetlesen, 1996).

Kindness & Joyful Regards :)

Kimberly Svevo-Cianci, Ph.D.

Board Chairman, Changing Children's Worlds Foundation (CCWF)

& Founder, ICDP-USA

Resources for Parents:  A cute one to guide you in listening to your child and understanding their interpretations of the world -

Upcoming FREE ICDP SPECIAL Family Program - Open to All Families!

Practial parenting strategies program - start Sep 21 2015 0500PM

Practial parenting strategies program - start: Sep 21, 2015 05:00PM

TriCity Family Services (TCFS) and Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation (CCWF) are collaborating to offer the International Child/Parent Development Program (ICDP) to families in the Tri... Read More »