Over this past month, I strained my forearm. I know you are all likely very sad for me. And I am for myself too. And I’ve been trying to do things with my opposite, non-dominant hand to give the other one a rest. And one of the things I’ve picked up is brushing my teeth with my opposite hand. Now you may think I’m reaching for content here by talking about this, but the actual act of learning to do something in your thirties, that you have known how to do for decades, just like and even along-side your children is an interesting experience. It teaches us empathy. And while it’s not the lesson of the day, it helps for us, adults, to learn empathy occasionally so we can continue to re-inforce it to our children. So tonight – try brushing with the opposite hand and learn what you child goes through each day/or night.
And what are other things we can do to teach empathy?
There are two that I want to bring up today:
- Use “I” messages. “I don’t like it when you talk to me that way”, and “It makes me feel happy when you say thank you”. The advanced lesson, for me, and maybe it’s not advanced to learn, but advanced to implement, is when you have to say something like, “I don’t like it when you hit me”, you calmly take them away from the situation and plop them down in time out. That action – going to time out- coupled with the “I statement” really links it together. This is literally teaching social norms – and we can all agree hitting people, sisters, parents won’t be tolerated – and that means doing more than saying ‘stop’.
- Identify feelings. 5 year olds are getting it. Usually – but my guy has a little trouble keeping his in check sometimes. But other times I think he just doesn’t know how to label what he’s feeling. And we’ve used happy and sad so many times getting them to this age, and they’re so simple, that it’s all my kid will say most of the time. How was school – Good. But there are MANY more emotions. Fear, boredom (versus hunger), nervous (vs anxious), creative (that can be a feeling), jealousy, tired.
- Tired – my kids literally don’t know what this feels like – but it sure comes off as quite a few other things.
That’s it for today, I want to say thanks for listening. Thanks for trying. You’re doing great work.