Sorry, Not Sorry:  How to Build Empathy When a Child Hurts Another child

how to build empathy Dec 08, 2022

 

Say “Sorry!

Many parents have heard or figured out that it can backfire when we make or ask a child to say they are sorry. When they refuse, we feel stuck and the hurt party feels worse. Or we get an angry, “Sorry!” hurled at the other child. However, we often don’t know what to do to help our child develop and express empathy or remorse. And, we find that when they don’t say it, well meaning adults see your child as uncaring. But, experience tells me this is quite the opposite.

 

Understanding the Child First

To understand the child after an incident, let’s break it down. We have all been there: one child hit, or grabbed from, or said some hurtful words to another child. The hurt child may be crying or otherwise making clear how hurt they are. But the offender, for lack of a better term, is also struggling. To understand that child, we need to step into their shoes.

 

The Stress Response when A Child has Hurt Another Child...

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How to See Stress and Anxiety (So you can help)

When your child acts out or in

As parents, we recognize that when our child hesitates to enter a party, or looks down and fiddles with something, that they might be feeling nervous or anxious. And when we see anxiety present in this way, we want to help. We don’t always know how, but seeing your child be nervous to talk to someone or anxious to try something new usually brings out our feelings of empathy and compassion – well maybe our own anxiety, too

But what about when our child is running around teasing their sister before school? Or when they snap at you in the car at pick up? Chances are you feel annoyed, maybe even angry. But, quite often this, too, is how anxiety can show up in children.

Children with stress or anxiety will act out or act in, and they are likely to elicit different responses. If you, as a parent can understand these, you can alter your response. 

 

When Anxiety Gets in the way

Anxiety, whether a pervasive issue for your child or...

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Anxiety: What it is and What Parents Can Do to Help.

Parents can take a course to interrupt the anxiety cycle and help

 

A certain amount of worry is not only normal, but helpful. When you begin to worry about an upcoming event, you might better prepare. However, sometimes it becomes too overwhelming that you avoid it or feel so anxious, you can’t think clearly. Anxiety, in all forms, is when you (or your child) is experiencing a sense of dread, unease surrounding something that is upcoming or that the child fears is upcoming. This may be around challenges in school or sports, it can be around separation, social acceptance, or other experiences. And while the idea that anxiety is not around something actually happening in the moment, it’s not “all in your head”. It’s based on past experiences or real worries. The problem is that children often get stuck in a cycle of anxiety – they are overwhelmed and fearful of a social event, the anxiety gets so high that they can’t think, or take it...

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Falling Apart After School: Why It Happens and What To Do

When your child falls apart after school, it's hard to know what to do. Part of you wonders if they had a terrible day and there is something you need to know. Which inspires questions… Which results in complete collapse.

 

Why is this happening?  And what can we do about it?

If you have children, you know that the time you pick your child up after school, or meet them after the bus ride can be very unpredictable. We all want to hear about the day, to reconnect, and set the tone for the rest of the day. And yet often that is not what happens. Sometimes, children come to the car and present as demanding, …you know, “Where is my snack?” “ Why were you the last one here?” or annoyed, “I don’t remember. Ugh!”.  And this can flare our own stress, even hurt our feelings, and trigger worries about whether we have raised a respectful child. On the other hand, you might just get really quiet, non-responsiveness...

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A Better Start to the School Day: One Thing You Can Do On the Way To School

 

The Importance of the Journey to School

Whether you walk to school or the bus stop or drive your child to school, we all hope to have a pleasant start to the day together. We hope to set the tone so our child heads into school with confidence and we head off to our day feeling good too. But many of the things we do actually create the opposite effect. 

What Gets in the Way

For example, we remind our child of the many things that we want them to do when we cannot be there…”Turn in your permission form!” ,”Remember to ask your math teacher when you don’t understand so you can do the homework”, “Please eat your sandwich so you are not so hungry.” We do all of this in an attempt to protect and care for them, even when we are not there. And while our kids do need some reminding, chances are the reminders for things that are later in the day can create anxiety and stress for our child. They can’t do it right now…so...

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How to Help an Anxious Child Go Back To School

Anxiety About Going Back To School

Going back to school this fall is a loaded endeavor with stress and anxiety flowing through the air for the kids and the grown ups who are caring for them. 

Is my child ready? Are they behind, and if so behind what? Will things be “normal” and what is normal? Will my child have friends and feel less stress and anxiety? Will they get in trouble at school? And children have their own anxieties around school too. Some they share and some not. There are so many “What ifs”. One child recently said to me, “What if I am asked to read, I mess up and everyone laughs at me?” We can’t promise that won’t happen. But what can we do?

What This Year Brings

While many parents cannot wait for kids to be back to school, there is a lot of anxiety around it too, and not just about COVID.This past year was not as “normal” as we had hoped. With the staffing shortages, increase in challenging behaviors,...

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What TO Do if a Child has Anxiety, and What NOT To Do

How we inadvertently fuel anxiety, instead of helping

Parents are asking: What can I do to help my child’s anxiety? And to talk about what to do when a child has anxiety, we have to also talk about what not to do, because its all too common that in our efforts to help, we may actually be fueling the cycle of anxiety. 

 

Understanding the Cycle of Anxiety

First, let’s understand the cycle of anxiety and how some of our common ways of helping can fuel that cycle. When a child is afraid to do something, such as go in their room alone or join a social activity, they may avoid it. And when they avoid it, they feel relief. And yet this feeling of relief is temporary as now their anxiety about going in their room or going to a friend’s house can get bigger. And the longer they avoid it, the bigger it gets.

 

Fueling anxiety through avoidance 

One mistake parents make when trying to help their child with anxiety is to completely avoid the task, despite...

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How To Help a Child Who is Anxious and 3 Myths That Get in the Way

Anxiety in children is on the rise

Anxiety is on the rise everywhere. It was rising before the pandemic and now it is higher for kids and for adults. In our efforts to help, many are seeking parent help programs for an anxious child – from yoga and meditation to therapy or even finding an emotional support animal. And in all of this, whether they find these supports helpful, you still do not know how to help a child who is anxious yourself, and how to support them in those high stress moments. You might find that while you are trying to help, you still feel ineffective and overwhelmed when your child is not able to go to school or camp, or engage in things they like, due to anxiety. Here are some common myths we would like to dispel as you consider how to help.

 

Myth #1: Anxiety looks like shyness and shutting down.

When we think of an anxious child, we immediately picture the shy child with their head down biting their nails, or the child quietly re-doing their...

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3 Mistakes We Make Managing Behavior and Why Behavior Management Courses For Parents Fail

Challenging Behaviors are on the Rise

In our work in schools and homes, we often are asked to help when a child’s behavior has gotten very worrisome. The parents are feeling something is wrong with their child. The school has often recommended behavior management courses for parents. Often the parent believes that they have not been firm or consistent enough. And through this behavior program, the parent can regain control. This is when things typically go from bad to worse. At Mariposa Education, while we do help parents with skills to get control, we also know that many strategies can backfire and make things worse. We help parents avoid those pitfalls.

 

Mistake #1: Focusing on the Behavior 

One common mistake is focusing only on the behavior, without considering the cause of the behavior. In many behavior management courses for parents, parents are told to look only at the antecedent right before the behavior. For example, you ask your child if they have picked...

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How To Repair the Parent Child Relationship: 3 Steps You Can Take Now

When the Parent Child Relationship is Off Balance

In any parent child relationship, there is conflict. We know that by being the parent, we may make decisions our children don’t like, and often find ourselves the receivers of tantrums, outbursts, and blame. It isn’t always easy. But we also hope to enjoy moments of closeness, when we are the receivers of affection, shared stories and confidences, gratitude, care and deeds. Very often in the course of parenting, we might feel that the level of conflict is higher than the level of closeness. In other words things are off balance, and we know we want to change it, but feel stuck…

Whether its a toddler whose favorite word is “no” or a teenager who is more often in their room with the door closed than feels comfortable, and whether its just something you have felt since the argument you had this morning or its been going on all year, it feels off when the parent child relationship is off balance. You know...

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