Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Keys to Raising Compassionate Kids Who Are a Force For Good

How can you encourage kids to act with more compassion? Before your children can act compassionately, they need to be able to feel empathy for others.

Without empathy there is no compassion. Children must first notice that someone is suffering before they can act in a helpful way.

Dr. Theresa Wiseman identified four attributes of empathy:
  • to be able to see the world as others see it
  • without judgment
  • recognize their emotions
  • communicate your understanding of what they are feeling
When your children feel empathy, they can imagine what it must be like for that other person. Children often want to do something to help. Compassion requires acting on empathic feelings and doing something to lessen the other person’s suffering.

Feeling empathy without taking action to help can lead to feelings of distress. In Daniel Goleman’s book, A Force For Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World, he explains, “When we simply empathize, tuning in to someone else’s suffering – for example, seeing vivid photos of burn victims and other people in grave distress – the brain fires the circuitry for feeling pain and anguish. Such empathic resonance can flood us with emotional upset – ‘empathy distress’, as science calls it. Professionals like nursing are too often plagued by such chronic anxiety, which can build to emotional exhaustion, a precursor to burnout.” 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Should you let your child go on this outdoor adventure? What are the real risks?

After losing their son Tyler on an outdoor adventure in Hawaii, the Madoff's are raising awareness so others can avoid this type of tragedy.  Sue, a friend of the family, wrote the following:

"Tyler Madoff, 15, was on a Bold Earth Teen Adventure tour in Hawaii in July of 2012 when he was swept out to sea and never recovered. The tragedy was deemed a freak accident, but it was anything but. Tyler and his group were resting in the tide pools near the Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay in Hawaii when a wave crashed on them, carrying him and another teen out to sea. The other boy was rescued; Tyler was never found.

The tour guides in charge of Tyler’s group were not only warned about the surf, but they were unprepared for any kind of emergency. The guides were not properly trained, nor did they have the proper safety equipment or a way to call for help. Bold Earth boasts professional guardianship of small groups and an American Camp Association accreditation, so how could something like this happen?

There is danger that can be associated with any kind of adventure travel, and parents are warned of these risk when booking these kind of trips for their children. Even if a company has accreditation or certification, there are some questions that we suggest asking before booking these trips that may prevent tragedies like Tyler Madoff’s from happening.
  • Before booking a travel tour, ask what isn’t included in tuition. Is there travel insurance, or should you purchase that on your own?
  • What kind of risk management policies are in place? How are emergencies communicated to the travelers, as well as guardians?
  • What is the hiring process in regards to tour guides/counselors? Are background checks performed?
  • What are the qualifications of the tour guides? When your child is out of your care, you want the best possible care, and it’s important to know how qualified their tour guides are. Have they been to this location (or one like it) before? Are they certified in CPR, Ocean Rescue, etc.? What is their level of experience?
  • What is the ratio of tour guides/counselors to travelers? The lower the ratio, the better. If two tour guides will be managing a group of 20, it’s virtually impossible for them to have eyes on each person on an excursion.
  • If any excursions will be outsourced, ask questions about the companies. What are their qualifications? Are they credible?
And a tip: check out the company’s social media pages and rating/review sites (Yelp, Camp Ratingz, Go Overseas) and see what people who have gone on a trip are saying."

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Warning Signs of Too Much Screen Time for Kids

I recently read an article asking if screen time is causing kids' brains to turn to mush. Fortunately, most kids are not running around like zombies from their brains being turned to mush by technology!

However, if your kids are getting too much screen time, there are effects which may be less obvious. It won't likely show up as academic problems but rather social-emotional problems. This one page flyer has warning signs that your kids are getting too much screen time.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Talking To Kids About Problems of Racism

Tragic stories rooted in racism have been exploding across the United States. In the past year there have been many stories of unwarranted police brutality against black people. You no longer have to rely on verbal accounts; you can see for yourself in graphic videos documenting these injustices.

The heartbreaking tragedies continue. On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof attended the weekly Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. After participating in the meeting for an hour, Roof, a 21-year-old white man, shot and killed nine black people including the senior pastor and state senator Clementa Pinckney.

In the three weeks following that tragedy, seven predominantly black churches have been set on fire by arsonists. These evil acts are fueled by racism. From the black kids who are disproportionately expelled from school and put into juvenile detention to the black men who fill the jails, racism is a major destructive force. While Asians, Native Americans, Latinos and other nonwhites also experience racism, Blacks are targeted the most.

Talking to Your Kids About Racial Differences

Racism grows in silence and secrecy. You can help shine a light on racism by talking to your kids about it. Do not avoid uncomfortable discussions of race by pretending that someone’s race doesn’t matter or pretending you don’t notice race.

You don’t need all the answers. You just need to start the conversation. Not talking to your kids about race only works if your kids are white. If you and your kids are white, you will not have negative experiences due to your skin color.

(read the rest of the article on Priceless Parenting)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Publicly or Privately Shaming Harms Kids

Do you remember being scolded with “Shame on you!” growing up? Perhaps it was followed with “You should know better than that!” How did it make you feel? Probably pretty bad.

For many generations shame has been a primary parenting tool. Brené Brown explains the power of using shame in The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting. "The truth is you can change a child's behavior on a dime with shame. For this simple reason - children experience shame as the threat of being unlovable. And so it's not very difficult to use shame to turn their behaviors around."

So if it’s effective why not use it? Because it damages your children’s feelings of self-worth.

Understanding Shame and Guilt

Before diving deeper into the problems with shaming, it’s helpful to define shame and how it’s different than guilt. Dr. BrenĂ© Brown researches shame. By her definition “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”

A fundamental need of all people is to feel a sense of love and belonging. Shame is powerful because it threatens this essential requirement. Using shame pressures your kids to change their behavior – not because they want to behave differently but rather they want to avoid your withdrawal of love.

Guilt is a feeling of remorse or regret for your actions. When you feel guilty, you are comparing something you’ve done or failed to do against your own ideals. Guilt can motivate you to make amends for a mistake or take responsibility for your actions. Guilt is felt more in your gut and shame in your heart.

(read the rest of the article on Priceless Parenting)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Stories + Yoga = Fun!

Could your kids use some exercise? While exercising doesn't sound very fun, when you add acting out an engaging story with yoga poses it passes the fun test!

The Cosmic Kids Yoga videos are getting great reviews from kids. Here's an example of one of their videos:

Monday, May 11, 2015

What influences kids cheating or not?

VitalSmarts created an experiment to test out if they could get more teens to cheat by using certain techniques. They base their manipulations on what science has found are ways to get people to set aside their values:

1) offer moral justification
2) minimize the consequences
3) dehumanize the victims
4) displace responsibility

Watch this video to see how well it worked and which kids were able to resist the temptation to cheat regardless of the pressure: