Posts Tagged ‘ empathy ’

An Open Letter to Parents Whose Children Don’t Have Autism

Monday, October 8th, 2012

My friend’s sister has four children, ages 14, 13, 7, and 3. This woman’s 13-year-old son has a severe form of autism and a mood disorder with psychotic episodes; doctors have told his parents that their son is a very unusual case. As a result, life is extremely challenging for the entire family. Because their son is prone to frequent and uncontrollable outbursts, they’re all having a particularly difficult time in the condo complex where they moved last year for his mother’s job as a biotech scientist. Her heartbreaking Facebook post, which she allowed me to share, strikes me as the kind of thing every parent should read, particularly if he or she doesn’t have a child with autism–or any other disability or mental illness.

“I would like to say something to those people in our community who look at my husband, myself, and our disabled son in disgust or shout out your windows for us to just keep him quiet. He is a minor inconvenience to you. You get to go back to your lives, travel as you please, eat what you please, and go about your merry way. Imagine what it is like for us, constantly struggling to keep our son safe. Imagine what it is like for our other three children, whose friends’ parents won’t allow them to come over while our son is home, who are constantly told they can’t go places because it’s too difficult, and who often can’t make their needs heard above his yelling. But most of all, imagine what it is like for our son, whose level of anxiety is so great, whose suffering is so enormous, that he is driven to cry, driven to scream, driven to bang his head and bite his arms and legs. Have you ever in your life felt so much pain that you were driven to that? Be grateful for what you have, for being born with a normal functioning brain, and maybe you would consider being helpful instead. We could always use a home-cooked dinner, an offer to take one of our other children to a movie, or just a smile of support.”

Image: autism symbol design isolated on white background via Shutterstock.

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Teaching Your Kids Martin Luther King’s Legacy

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day may have passed, but the important values that surround his legacy continue to live on.  He encouraged understanding, peace, justice, and honesty among people. 

He also advocated for treating everyone as equals regardless of physical, social, or economic reasons.

Nurture important values such as kindness, compassion, and empathy in your children.  Here are guides to help your kids continue Martin Luther King’s dreams for a better tomorrow.

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Daily News Roundup

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Low blood levels of Vitamin D linked to chubbier kids, faster weight gain - Kids who are deficient in vitamin D accumulated fat around the waist and gained weight more rapidly than kids who got enough vitamin D, a new University of Michigan study suggests. [Science Daily]

Fearless children show less empathy, more aggression - Preschool-aged children who demonstrate fearless behavior also reveal less empathy and more aggression towards their peers. This has been shown in a new study that was carried out at the University of Haifa’s Faculty of Education. “The results of this study show that fearless behavior in children can be identified and is related to neurological and genetic predisposition. This type of behavior has less correlation at least in infancy with standards of educational processes or parenting practice,” says Dr. Inbal Kivenson-Baron, who carried out the study. [Medical News Today]

Breastfeeding moms don’t get less or worse sleep than moms who use formula, study finds - Breastfed infants are reported to awaken more often and to sleep less. But does that mean breastfeeding mothers get less sleep, too? Not necessarily, according to the study, “Infant Feeding Methods and Maternal Sleep and Daytime Functioning,” in the December issue of Pediatrics. [Medical News Today]

New research highlights importance of parent-child communication to combat obesity - As part of its proprietary survey program, Student ViewPOINT™, ARAMARK Education, a leading provider of school food and nutrition services, surveyed almost 40,000 middle school and high school students across the country. The research revealed that parent-child communication has a significant influence on the nutrition habits of children. [The Medical News]

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RIE Method Advocates “Do Less, Observe More” Parenting

Monday, November 1st, 2010

ss_ISP2093704Want to raise a peaceful, confident baby? Forget the dangling mobiles, Baby Einstein—even playpens. RIE(short for Resources for Infant Educarers) devotees, including celeb followers such as Tobey Maguire, Helen Hunt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jason Alexander and Felicity Huffman, would argue their paired-down, empathy-for-baby based method is the way to go, The Daily Beast reports.

Co-founded in 1978 by Magda Gerber and Tom Forrest, a pediatric neurologist, RIE (pronounced like “rye”) is a parenting philosophy that emphasizes treating infants with respect in order to help them grow into well-adjusted, independent individuals. Followers seek to take their parenting cues directly from their babies,  connecting to the actions and feelings a child exhibits in hopes to gain an understanding of what their little one is experiencing. Simple kitchen utensils and household items, for example, are opted for instead of battery-operated devices that are thought to distract rather than engage.

Similarly, a crying baby isn’t immediately soothed but is encouraged to ’let it out’, and asked why he or she is crying. “One of the most common misconceptions is that we just let the babies cry and we don’t pick them up,” longtime instructor Hari Grebler, who teaches in Santa Monica and makes RIE-approved toys and baby furniture, was quoted as saying. “What RIE talks about is, how do we pick them up? Do we just snatch them up from the floor? Or do we go over and talk and try to find out what’s up and tell them, ‘Now I’m going to pick you up.’”

Those dedicated to bringing up their babies under the guidelines of REI often attend REI training courses and meet-up groups. Emma Gray, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based fine art consultant and mother of two, appreciated the way these classes made her more focused and connected as a parent. ”It had a very profound effect …There’s this idea that the children have got to dance, have got to swim. What they need is nature. Basic stimulation from other children. Being outside. Natural stuff.”

This month, the method goes mainstream as RIE teaching materials arrive at 1,700 federally funded Early Head Start programs for families with infants and toddlers nationally.

Would you want your child to participate in these programs? Do you think RIE is a bit too ‘granola’ in its approach or do you see the method as a refreshing departure for our generation of ‘high-achieving super-babies’?

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