How To Teach Your Kids To Care About Other People – Caroline Bologna

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As deep-seated divisions, vitriol and disturbing news fill headlines, many people are wondering what happened to the qualities of empathy and kindness in our society.

In the same vein, many parents are wondering how to raise kids who will be a force for love and goodness in the face of bitterness and hate.

HuffPost spoke to psychologists, parents and other experts about how to instill empathy in children.

Talk About Feelings

“The gateway to empathy is emotional literacy,” said Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and the author of numerous parenting books, including UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.

A simple way to foster emotional literacy is by promoting face-to-face communication in the age of texting and smartphones. “Digital-driven kids aren’t necessarily learning emotions when they pick emojis,” Borba said. “Make it a rule in your house to always look at the color of the talker’s eyes because it will help your child tune in to the other person.”

Another key aspect is teaching kids to identify their own emotions early on. “Use emotional language with kids. Say things like, ‘I see you’re really frustrated,’ or, ‘I see you’re really mad,’” Laura Dell, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Education, told HuffPost.

“Before children can identify and empathize with other people’s feelings, they need to understand how to process their own feelings,” she continued. “Once they can identify their own emotion, they’re better able to develop those self-regulation skills to control their own emotions ― and then take the next step to understand the emotions of others.”

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Ravi Rao, a pediatric neurosurgeon turned children’s show host, believes parents should teach feelings as much as they teach things like colors and numbers.

“You’ll see parents walking through the park and taking every opportunity to ask, ‘What color is that man’s jacket?’ ‘What color is the bus?’ ‘How many trees are there?’” he explained. “You can also practice emotion by saying things like, ‘Do you see the woman over there? Does she look happy or does she look sad?’”

Rao also recommends playing a “guess what I’m feeling” game at home by making happy or sad faces and asking your children to identify the emotion. “You just get their brains in the habit of noticing the signals on other people’s faces.”

Once kids have a better sense of emotions and how things make them feel, you can ask them about the emotional perspectives of others. “You can ask things like, ‘How do you think it made Tommy feel when you took his toy?’ or, ‘That made Mommy really sad when you hit me,’” said Borba.

Use Media To Your Advantage

Watching TV or reading books together presents another great opportunity to cultivate empathy, according to Madeleine Sherak, a former educator and the author of Superheroes Cluba children’s book about the value of kindness.

“Discuss instances when characters are being kind and empathetic, and similarly, discuss instances when characters are being hurtful and mean,” she suggested. “Discuss how the characters are probably feeling and possible scenarios of how the situations may have been handled differently so as to ensure that all characters are treated kindly.”

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Borba recommends engaging in emotionally charged films and literature like The Wednesday Surprise, Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Set An Example

Parents need to walk the walk and model empathy themselves, noted Rao.

“Kids will pick up on more things than just what you say. You can say, ‘Pay attention to other people’s feelings,’ but if the child doesn’t perceive or witness you paying attention to people’s feelings, it doesn’t necessarily work,” he explained.

Rao emphasized the importance of parents using language to convey their own emotional states by saying things like, “Today, I’m really frustrated,” or, “Today, I’m really disappointed.” They can practice empathy when role-playing with dolls or action figures or other games with kids as well.

It’s also necessary for parents to recognize and respect their children’s emotions, according to Dell.

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For kids to show empathy to us and others, we need to show empathy to them,” she explained. “Of course it’s tough as a parent trying to get multiple kids to put on their clothes and shoes and get out the door to go to school in the morning. But sometimes it makes a difference to take that pause and say, ‘I see it’s making you really sad that we can’t finish watching ‘Curious George’ this morning, but if we finished it, we wouldn’t be able to make it to school on time, and it’s really important to get to school on time.’”

“It doesn’t mean you have to give in to their wants all the time, but to recognize you understand how they feel in a situation,” she added.

Acknowledge Children’s Acts Of Kindness

“Parents are always praising children for what grades they got or how they did on a test. You can also boost their empathy by letting them know it matters to develop a caring mindset,” said Borba, noting that when children do things that are kind and caring, parents can stop for a moment to acknowledge that.

“Say, ‘Oh, that was so kind when you stopped to help that little boy. Did you see how happy it made him?’” explained Borba. “So your child realizes that caring matters, because you’re talking about it. They then begin to see themselves as caring people and their behavior will match it.”

Expose Them To Differences

“Parents have to help their children grow up and thrive in a diverse society through education about and exposure to others who are different, whether culturally, ethnically, religiously, in physical appearance and ability or disability,” Sherak said.

There are many ways to expose your children to the diversity of the world ― like reading books, watching certain movies and TV shows, eating at restaurants with different cuisines, visiting museums, volunteering in your community, and attending events hosted by various religious or ethnic groups.

“It is also important to follow up such visits and activities with open discussions and additional questions and concerns, if any,” said Sherak. “It is also valuable to discuss differences in the context of our children’s own environments and experiences in the family, at school, in their neighborhoods, and in the larger community.”

Parents can urge local schools to promote cross-cultural awareness in their curricula as well, said Rao.

“We also just have to eliminate jokes about race and culture from our homes,” he added. “Maybe back in the day making jokes about race like Archie Bunker seemed acceptable and part of what the family did when they got together on holidays. But that actually undermines empathy if the first thought a child learns about a race or group of people is something derogatory learned from humor. It can be very hard to then overcome that with other positive messages.”

Own Up To Your Mistakes

“If you make a mistake and behave rudely toward someone who messes up at a store checkout, for example, I think you should acknowledge that mistake to kids,” said Dell. After the bad moment, parents can say something like, “Wow I bet she had a lot on her hands. There were a lot of people at the store right then. I should’ve been a little kinder.”

Acknowledging and talking about your own lapses in empathy when your kids are there to witness them makes an impression. “Your child is right there watching, seeing everything,” Dell explained. “Own up to moments you could’ve made better choices to be kinder to the people around you.”

Make Kindness A Family Activity

Families can prioritize kindness with small routines like taking time at dinner every night to ask everyone to share two kind things they did, or writing down simple ways to be caring that they can all discuss together, said Borba. Playing board games is another way to learn to get along with everybody.

Borba also recommended volunteering together as a family or finding ways that your children enjoy giving back.

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If your kid is a sports guru, then helping him do arts and crafts with a less privileged kid might not be the best match, but you can find other opportunities for face-to-face giving that match their interests,” she explained. “Help them realize the life of giving is better than the life of getting.”

Families might also consider writing down their own mission statements, suggested Thomas Lickona, a developmental psychologist and author of How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain.

“[It’s] a set of ‘we’ statements that express the values and virtues you commit to live by ― for example, ‘We show kindness through kind words and kind actions’; ‘We say we’re sorry when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings’; ‘We forgive and make up when we’ve had a fight,’” he explained.

Lickona also recommended holding everyone accountable to the family values at weekly family meetings centered around questions like, “How did we use kind words this week?” and, “What would help us not say unkind things even if we’re upset with somebody?”

“When kids slip into speaking unkindly ― as nearly all sometimes will ― gently ask for a ‘redo,’” he said. “‘What would be a kinder way to say that to your sister?’ Make it clear that you’re asking for a redo not to embarrass them, but to give them a chance to show that they know better. Then thank them for doing so.”

Another piece of advice from Lickona: Just look around.

“Even in today’s abrasive, angry, and often violent culture, there are acts of kindness all around us. We should point these out to our children,” he said. “We should explain how kind words and kind deeds, however small ― holding the door for someone, or saying ‘thank you’ to a person who does us a service ― make a big impact on the quality of our shared lives.”

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My Tangled Relationship with My Daughter’s Hair – Leslie Kendall Dye

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I fell in love with a photo I snapped of my daughter at a Christmas day wedding just a month after she’d turned four. I printed the photo and it now sits on a shelf above my desk, framed in silver. It’s difficult to describe precisely what the image suggests to me, but a lot of it has to do with her hair. It’s shaped into a silky confection of a bob, some platonic ideal of how hair should look: neat but glamorous, the light sumptuously dancing in its waves, controlled, sporty, elegant. It is swept back on one side with a barrette, and her face looks up toward the light. She is wearing a frock of tulle and taffeta- she might be in a fairy tale, or a moonlit bay in Maine, or an A.R. Gurney play.

My daughter used to love having her hair cut. She developed an obsession with scissors and their potential relationship to hair when she was only two. She would place her dolls side by side on wooden chairs, drape them with dish towels, and manipulate her father’s long and very real scissors with preternatural dexterity. We told her the hair would not grow back. She was indifferent to this; she just wanted to cut hair, any hair, all hair.

After the bath she would ask me to trim her hair. She’d sit on a towel draped on my bed and I’d begin the haphazard process, cutting along the bottom of her curls. Her hair was wavy enough to be forgiving of my reckless, uneven intrusions. It would fall in satiny clumps around her and she’d squeal, then run through the apartment spinning her head to feel the lightness of her curls.

Then came the bob I captured in that wedding photo. A professional had cut it this time, and my daughter hated what she saw in the mirror, deeming it severe and somehow too deliberate. She didn’t use those words, but I knew what she meant when she complained.

With that, she never wanted to cut her hair again. For a long time, I didn’t worry. I assumed she’d forget the trauma of the salon cut and long for the thrill of scissors in her hair once more. But as that adorable bob grew out, her resolve only hardened. And I began to fret.

Why is her hair such a big deal to me? Why do I want my daughter to hew to the image in the silver frame? It’s been two and a half years and in that time a struggle has played out between my child and me. She will not submit to a trim. She now looks more Haight-Ashbury than A.R. Gurney.

I have imagined cutting it when she falls asleep. It’s a terrible thing to consider, much less admit to. But—her hair. The curls are gone, the weight of two years’ growth has pulled them out. It lies flat; it does not frame her face. So what? She looks different. She looks older. “Can I comb it into pigtails?” I beg. “What about braids? Or ribbons?” No. She likes it down, untended, wild.

“If you won’t trim it,” I say, “then you have to let me condition and comb it at night.” My daughter accepts this, as a way to ward off more demands that she visit the hairdresser. It takes a while to tease out the knots and the rapid motion of my comb slowly working its way down the hair shaft makes her nervous. “You aren’t cutting my hair back there, are you?” my daughter asks. I assure her I’m not, feigning shock that she would think I could commit such treachery; nonetheless, she knows my heart telepathically.

It isn’t just the hair. Something is shifting. Last weekend we received a box of hand-me-downs and before I’d had time to vet them she was gleefully sorting her favorites—”Look Mommy! It says “Star” in sparkles!”

No, no, no! I wanted to scream. That is not what my daughter wears! But it is now. This morning she went to school in a t-shirt studded with sequins and a dung-colored pair of slim-fit pants, her unruly mane cascading down her back. She knew I silently disapproved, and I considered this a personal failure, but slim-fit pants strike me as both confining and too mature. I see in my mind’s eye a Bonwit Teller dress from my youth, something A line and tailored, maybe it’s one I saw my mother wearing in a photo circa 1946. Maybe I’d like my daughter’s clothing, even the very impression she makes, to work as a time machine, forging a connection with a grandmother otherwise lost.

I don’t think she wants my approval; I think she wants me not to care. She doesn’t want me to have a vision of her that does not agree with her own, as if my fantasy could coopt her singular vision of herself. Perhaps it can. When she was a baby, I loved choosing the hats. I put her in sun bonnets, the jauntiest caps, knit beanies with ears. But I knew how important separation and differentiation was, and I prepared myself to let go.

Yet here I am, tangled up in her hair.

I wrote to a friend about it and she wrote back, “Mothers care a lot about hair.” I don’t think I see my daughter as an extension of me, but perhaps in presentation I am unable to fully separate from her. If she is messy, I look messy too. I know a mother who called her pediatrician about her daily battle over clothes with her six-year-old. The doctor asked, “Do you think you look less in control if she leaves the house in a tutu?” “Yes!” the mother replied. Is it simply about control though? I want my daughter to wear clothes that match her youth, her freshness, her recent arrival in the world. If she wears trends, she seems prematurely self-conscious, whereas timeless clothes suggest a freedom from worldly preoccupation.

Maybe that’s what it’s about—time. The longer her hair grows—the more I don’t recognize the clothes and the affect and the expressions she brings home, the more immediate is the sensation of time overcoming me like a riptide. I don’t want the photo under glass; I want the whole child imprisoned there.

They say you must remind yourself that your children do not belong to you.

The truth is more complex. She is more my little girl now than she was as a less formed four year old. Together, we peruse the shelves of the local bookshop, delighting in the first edition Narnia books. “It has to be Pauline Baynes, Mommy.” She knows who illustrated the original Narnia; she is very much my daughter. I recognize the inside of her more and more.

This weekend, I have a haircut appointment. I asked my daughter if she’d like to go, because she still loves watching haircuts.

“No thanks, Mama,” she said.

Then—”I wish you wouldn’t cut your hair.”

We are forever snarled in each other’s hair, my daughter and I, invested in the consistency of the people we know best and need most.

I wish you wouldn’t cut your hair. Oh kid. It cuts both ways.

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A Third of Students Need Eye Exams, Study Finds – Sarah D. Sparks & Alex Harwin

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Despite the spread of nearsightedness among U.S. schoolchildren, nearly 1 in 3 has not had a vision screening in at least two years, according to a new Education Week Research Center analysis of federal data, and research suggests several ways schools may help reduce children’s risk of bad eyesight.

Myopia, or nearsightedness, means that a person has good vision for close objects but difficulty seeing things farther away. The problem, caused when the eyeball grows too long from back to front, can in more severe cases mean that a student cannot see clearly even a foot in front of her face.

In 2017, the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, reported that nearly 42 percent of Americans are nearsighted, compared with only 25 percent in the 1970s. About 4 percent have severe, or “high” myopia, which can lead to blindness.

The problem is just as bad or worse in some other industrialized countries. Australia and Great Britain have seen similar increases in myopia. In China, India, and throughout industrialized Asia, the National Eye Institute reported that 80 percent to 90 percent of all high school graduates are nearsighted, and 20 percent have high myopia.

“The rate of children needing glasses is so much greater than I ever imagined,” said Carolyn Amberry, who is in her 17th year as a school nurse at Long Beach Unified schools in California. At Lincoln Elementary, one high-poverty school where Amberry worked, “I couldn’t believe at a school of 1,200 kids, I had more than 300 needing glasses.”

Natural Light Helps

Nearsightedness does run in families, but the spread of the vision problems has raised concerns among educators and researchers. Studies have pointed to both the rise of computer and mobile use and the reduction of recess in schools as potentially contributing to the problem.

“With technology nowadays, [students’] faces are always in a screen,” said Leila Bajarin, who coordinates vision screenings for students at Kalihi Waena Elementary in Hawaii. “I think that makes [eyesight] deteriorate a lot quicker at a young age.”

She’s not wrong, research says, but longitudinal studies suggest that reading and studying either on computers or in print—so-called “near work”—do not fully explain the rapidly rising rates of nearsightedness.

“There’s no question that the [electronic] devices and students starting to use them so early contributes to the earlier onset of myopia we’re seeing,” said optometrist Amanda Hikin, “but a lot of the kids we are seeing are [in poverty] and may not have as much access to some of those things. But still we see quite a lot of myopia and astigmatism.”

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Instead, researchers including Donald Mutti, an optometry professor at Ohio State University in Columbus, have found what children do inside is less important a predictor of myopia than the time children spend outside. Young children’s eyes grow quickly in infancy and toddlerhood, but that growth slows during the school years. If instead, the eye continues to lengthen at its early pace, light coming through the lens will not focus correctly, creating myopia. Mutti and other researchers have suggested exposure to natural light in the elementary years helps to trigger the slower pace of growth—so being outside less during and after school also may boost the risk of nearsightedness.

Spotting Vision Problems

The American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus recommends children have their vision checked at least every other year after age 5, but states differ widely in whether and how often students are screened. In Connecticut and New Jersey, for example, just over 23 percent of children younger than 18 have not had a vision check in the past two years; in Idaho and Nevada, that share is more than 40 percent, according to the research center analysis of data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, an ongoing federal study of children in more than 364,000 households across the country. Children in poverty also were more likely than their wealthier peers to go two years or more without screening, the analysis showed.

At Kalihi Waena Elementary, Bajarin recalled one child, who was among the more than 32 percent of schoolchildren in Hawaii who hadn’t had their eyes tested in two years. The 5th grader’s teachers noticed she had trouble seeing two years ago—”She was moved up [in the classroom], but even at the front of the class, there is information up on all walls” that she couldn’t see, Bajarin said—but for two years, her father argued he didn’t have time to take his daughter for an eye exam. “Thankfully, we convinced him before she aged out of our school.”

The 5th grader ultimately got an exam and free glasses during a screening event by Vision to Learn, a nonprofit that works with schools in 12 states to identify and correct vision problems among students in poverty. In the group’s first screening of about 200 of Kalihi Waena’s 480 P-5 students, 75 students needed glasses, including several older elementary students.

“It helped a lot, behaviorally, in the classroom with a lot of the kids,” said Bajarin, the school’s parent-community networking coordinator. “Some of [the students], they won’t speak up, because they don’t know that they have an actual vision problem. When they can see better, they don’t feel so insecure and that they have to act up, … and getting glasses, it was something for them that boosted their confidence because they could take ownership of it.”

Nationwide, 70 percent of the children for whom Vision to Learn provides glasses had never had their vision corrected before, and another 20 percent have outdated prescriptions, according to Damian Carroll, the group’s national director.

“When the children finally get to the eye exam and are told they needed glasses, it is often just such a shock,” Carroll said. “The kid doesn’t realize there’s a problem because it’s the way the world has always looked, and it’s just not something parents first think of when the child is struggling in school.”

Long Beach’s Amberry agreed; on her own, she said, she was only able to get follow-up exams and glasses for 50 percent to 70 percent of students who failed their initial vision screenings before the school began working with nonprofits to provide on-campus exams and fittings.

Hikin, the optometrist, said Vision to Learn and other groups that work with schools also increasingly are moving away from testing vision using the traditional letter-and-shape eye charts (which were the focus of the national survey), and toward using auto-refractors, handheld machines that gauge vision by measuring how light changes as it enters a person’s eye. That sort of testing can be done on less verbal and younger children.

Mary Beth Thurston, a school nurse at Long Beach Unified, said her district also works with the local Lion’s Club to get 3- and 4-year-olds in its preschool programs tested for glasses. Last year, she said about eight out of the 200 students tested ended up needing new glasses. Next year, the district will try to pair students’ medical physicals and vision screenings, to encourage more families to get their children tested.

Gaining Focus

Screening and getting glasses to students, while important, is only a start, Amberry said. Lincoln Elementary in Long Beach made a photo gallery of students wearing their glasses to boost their confidence and held popsicle parties for those who wore their glasses regularly, both to encourage students to wear them and to report quickly if they were lost or broken. Reading teachers also began referring struggling students for vision screenings earlier, at the same time they tried academic interventions.

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Other studies suggest getting children outside more can lower their risk of developing vision problems. Mutti of OSU found that for children of nearsighted parents, about 20 percent of those who spent at least 14 hours a week outside developed nearsightedness, compared to 60 percent of children with the same genetic risk who spent less time outdoors. Similarly, large randomized-controlled studies in Australia and China found primary schoolchildren who got more than 40 minutes a day of outdoor activities were more than 20 percent less likely to develop nearsightedness. But getting outside more did not necessarily slow the progression of myopia in students who had already developed deteriorating vision.

In a separate 2017 study in China, a team of researchers from that country as well as from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States tested a so-called “bright classroom,” built with wall-sized clear and light-diffusing glass and intended to provide more access to natural light while reducing glare or distractions from outside the classroom. The study found over the course of a year, light from the blue-green part of the spectrum—which has been associated with lower risk of nearsightedness—was significantly higher in the prototype classroom than traditional classrooms, and a group of 230 students and teachers testing the room reported it was more comfortable for reading than a typical classroom.

However, the yearlong pilot was too short to tell whether students who used the bright classroom actually became less likely to develop myopia than those in regular classrooms.

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How To Deal With A Difficult Parent – Terry Heick

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You’d heard about this parent from other teachers.

That this parent was a handful. Rude. Combative. Aggressive. Even litigious. In response, you worry, if just a little. You have enough to deal with, and butting heads with an angry parent–especially one angry just because–doesn’t sound like fun. You don’t get paid enough for that hot mess.

So you keep calm and hope to ride the year out. Maybe they won’t call. Maybe they’ll skip parent-teacher conferences. You’ve even considered grading their child a little easier just to avoid the hassle of it all.

We’ve all been there. Nothing can solve this problem, but there are ways to take the edge off so that you can open up the lines of communication and deal with the parent on equal terms so that they’re child has the best chance for success.

12 Ways To Deal With A Difficult Parents

1. Reach out first

Be pre-emptive. Reach out with a positive message to start off on the right foot.

2. Don’t patronize

And when you reach out, be authentic. Don’t pretend to be their best friend, nor should have that “nipping problems in the bud” tone. Don’t worry about “holding your ground” either. Just reach out as an educator to a member of your own community. You’re not selling them anything, and they’re not selling you anything. You’re both dutifully and beautifully involved on either side of a child.

3. See yourself

No matter how important the education of a child is, realize you’re simply a single cog in the life of that family, no more or less important than keeping the lights on, their job security, food and shelter, or any other reality of daily life.

4. Give them something

Not an object–a “handle” of some kind to make sense of the learning process. Something they can make sense of and understand and use when they speak to their child about education. Something less about the game of school and more about learning, curiosity, and personalization.

5. Involve them

Keep your friends close and your…difficult parents…closer. Ask them to take on an authentic role in the classroom. Ask their opinion. Allow them to have a voice or show leadership. Give them a role in what their child learns. The fact that a parent has approaching zero authentic role in the learning process of their children is part of our challenge as educators. Help them find one.

6. Put them in a position to succeed

Just like a student, put the parent in a position to succeed. They may not have had a good experience in school, either as students, with siblings of your student, etc. Give them a reason to believe that you have the best interest of the family at heart–and that includes them.

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7. Don’t judge them, or “handle them.”

Meet them on equal terms. For all of our overly-glorified differences, most people are fundamentally the same. We respond to pain and threats differently, and have unique ethical systems, but it’s easy to place yourself above someone even if you think you’re not doing exactly that.

8 Establish a common ground

An old sales technique. A favorite athletic team–or dislike for a rival team. A personal philosophy. Your own struggle as a person. Something to humanize yourself, and establish the overlap between yourself and the parent.

9. Focus on the work

This is the opposite of teaching and learning, where you focus on the human being (the student). In conferences and communication with parents, you can both see the child and what’s “best for them” very differently, but academic work has a chance to be more objective. Focus on the work and academic performance, and what you and the parent and siblings and other teachers, etc., can do to support the student in their growth.

Even in the midst of difficult conversations, always do your best to steer the focus back on the work, and the child themselves. The former is data/evidence, the latter the reason for the data/evidence.

10. Give them reason to see beyond the grade book

This is partly the problem with letter grades. So reductionist.

It’s easy to look at a grade book and both start and finish the conversation there. If that’s all they see, have a look at your curriculum and instruction, and see if you’ve given them ample opportunity to do otherwise. Talk less about missing work, and more about the promise and possibility of their child. Help them see that the school year is a marathon, not a series of sprints.

11. If all else fails…

If you have to, call for reinforcements, and document everything. Never feel bad about having another teacher in the room with you if you feel like a parent will be aggressive and you’re simply not comfortable with it. Better to depend on solidarity and hope than your own personal strength.

And document everything. Stay on top of grading, feedback, behavior management, missing assignments, your tone, sarcasm, etc. Document every call and email. Save exemplar work. Document differentiation, personalization, and other individual efforts in pursuit of the best interest of the student.

Whatever you do, no matter your analysis of the proximity between apples and trees, don’t hold the difficult parent “against” the child, even subconsciously.

12. Take it personally, then don’t

If you have a “difficult parent,” and in spite of your best efforts it all falls apart, I’d say don’t take it personally but it’s hard not to. So fine–internalize it. Own it. Talk to colleagues (better than a spouse, whose emoptional reserves you may want to save for more pressing issues in education). Cry if you need to. And then let it go.

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Play Brain Games to Help Your Child Learn to Read – Judy Willis

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Reading is not a natural process for the human brain.We are born with the brain architecture ready for development of successful verbal communication, but without any blueprint guiding recognition of the printed word. Neuroimaging scans show that multiple brain regions activate during the reading process without any one isolated reading center.

The human brain is a pattern-building and detecting mechanism. Seeking patterns is the brain’s way of making sense of new information and experiences. We identify new things based on their similarities and relationships to things we already know. The development of literacy takes place in the same way all memories are constructed in the brain – by relating the new to the known.

The brain stores our learned information in long-term memory neural circuits based on commonalities or relationships. If a child had never seen a hat of any kind on a person (real or in pictures) and she is given a doll with various items of clothing, she would not know to place the hat on the doll’s head.

Memory patterns of stored related information become stronger the more frequently information they hold is recalled, used, or reviewed in a way that reinforces the relationships among the data in the memory circuit. For memory of letters and words to build, the brain must continue to link new information with related patterns that already exist in memory storage. For reading to become an acquired skill, there must be a gradual buildup of memories where new information is experienced together with related existing knowledge.

This is why children need skills of patterning and pattern recognition to develop literacy. Their patterning skills are what will allow their brains to connect letters with sounds and words with meanings. Helping young children build their patterning skills supports their future ability to recognize and remember the patterns found in letters, words, and sentence structures.

Here are some brain games you can play with your child to help boost his reading ability through recognizing, playing with, and creating patterns:

  1. Draw attention to patterns in art, nature, and daily recurrent occurrences. You can help your child build pattern recognition skills by playing “color detective” as you are out together. Have your child say “red” each time he sees a red car. Then ask him to be on the lookout for another color. You can also play “shape hunt” together, and ask your child to lead you around the house and point to all things that are circle-shaped (or square, etc.).
  2. Ask your child to categorize and sort items. The patterning skills needed for reading are further extended when your child’s brain can associate the unknown with a pattern into which it could fit. This pattern matching is what takes place when the brain predicts (based on existing memory patterns) the sound of an unfamiliar letter or the meaning of an unknown word. To work on this skill with your child, get her to sort objects into obvious categories, such as a collection of pictures or small plastic animals or vehicles, and give names to each group. (Verbalizing the name she selects for a category increases the brain’s awareness of the pattern. Ask your child why she chose the category name or what information she used when sorting items the way she did.) When she is pro?cient with this, she can move on to more subtle items to categorize. For example, make a map of the rooms of the house and place it on a table or the floor, and ask her to bring items specific to each room, and place each item in the appropriate room on the map.
  3. Look for similarities and differences between objects and photos. When your child has mastered large pattern similarities and differences such as red toys and black toys, try engaging in the following activity. While driving in the car or taking a walk together, ask him to point to cars that have four doors and those that have two or houses with flat roofs and pointy roofs. Or if you are at home, find two photographs of your child taken about a year apart and have him tell you about all the details he finds in each of them. Ask him which picture was taken when he was older and how he can tell. This game becomes more complex and expands comparison-and-contrast aspects of pattern recognition when you encourage your child to tell you other similarities and differences he notices: between two cars, houses, leaves, dogs, family photos, or photos of him at different ages.
  4. Play games of “What doesn’t belong?” This will prepare your child to identify how words and letters have shared characteristics that can be used to identify new words by seeking commonalities. Group together three items, like coins, and include one that does not belong, and ask your child to guess which one is not the same as the others. Once she masters this, create increasingly complex groupings where the “different” item is subtler in its differences (pennies with all heads up except one with tail side up). You can then move on to identification of the patterns of sequences. Line up a penny-penny-dime, penny-penny-dime, and penny-penny-dime sequence. Ask your child to choose the next coin that would fit with the pattern you set up. This builds both patterning skills for reading and sequencing skills for number sense, the basis for learning arithmetic.
  5. Try pattern matching. Pattern matching is how children connect specific letters and groups of letters with associated sounds. An example is by seeing the letter “m” and based on past experiences associating that letter with the “mmm” sound, your child is able to retrieve the memory of that sound. This “phonemic awareness” requires the brain to repeatedly experience the sound and letter together. The more frequently children are aware of this relationship between sound and letter, the more easily their brains will retrieve the correct sound to match with the letter in new words – until it becomes automatic. Children who have trouble with written symbols may learn more readily from hearing patterns emphasized in speech. You can help build these memory pathways to recognize patterns by emphasizing repeating letters, words, and sentences with changes in your voice pitch, speed, or volume emphasis as you read together with your child. If the word in the book is “hibernate” you would read and point to the “hi” and “bern” the point to the “ate”. Then have him do the same and find words with the familiar letter combinations.

Learning to read is critical for all academic success, but it is often an intimidating struggle for children. As your children’s patterning partner, you’ll be their guide to the wonderful worlds they can reach through books traveling over the rainbow and deep into the center of the earth. Your guidance will light the way and the books they enjoy when young will ignite their joy as lifelong readers.

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25 Tasty and Healthy Kids’ Lunch Ideas for Home or School

If your kids are picky eaters, you know that every meal can be a battle. Their growing bodies are in need of vitamins and nutrients, yet all they crave are unhealthy foods with no nutritional content. What you need are creative meal ideas they can eat for lunch at home or at school, designed to appeal to their palate.

The recipes listed here contain lots of vegetables, minimal or no processed ingredients, and most importantly, flavors that even the pickiest kids will love! The ingredients for each meal are listed below. Click on the name of the dish to see the full recipe!

Finger Foods

1. Asian-Style Fish Cakes with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

Do you have a finicky eater that refuses to eat fish? This is a great way to make this omega-3 fatty acid rich protein appealing and fun to eat. And it’s much better for you than frozen fish sticks.

Just so you know, these fish cakes freeze amazingly well! To save time, make a big batch and freeze them for whenever you need a quick meal or snack.

View recipe here.

2. Chicken Zucchini Poppers

Some kids don’t like the texture of zucchini, but in this recipe, they add moisture and the zucchini is barely detectable. Make sure to squeeze out the excess water in the zucchini so that the poppers stay together and don’t fall apart. They can be pan-fried or baked! The poppers pair perfectly with the citrus avocado dressing.

View recipe here.

3. Baked Crispy Chicken Fingers with Apple Fries

If your kid asks for chicken fingers, you don’t have to say no. This version is made with white meat chicken and baked. Substituting fries with apple fries makes this an appetizing lunch that both you and your kids will approve of. Turkey breast can be used instead of chicken.

View recipe here.

4. Broccoli and Cheese Nuggets (Vegetarian)

Broccoli is notorious for being a hard sell. Who knows why kids don’t like eating these miniature trees? But when mixed with cheese and formed into a fun shape for easy dipping, kids may give these broccoli-filled nuggets another try. Another positive is that they are baked, not fried.

View recipe here.

The Salad Bar

5. Chicken Taco Salad

Kids love tacos, so why not make them a healthy taco salad? This one is packed full of leafy greens, tomatoes, corn, avocado and grilled chicken. Adding crushed chips on top gives it the perfect amount of texture and appeal for your young kids to enjoy without a single complaint.

View recipe here.

6. Chicken Salad with Grapes

A colorful chicken salad with crunchy roasted nuts, dried cherries, grapes and celery, it can be served alone, in a sandwich, or on a bed of lettuce. Apples can be used in place of the cherries or in addition. Greek yogurt can also be used in place of the mayonnaise to up the healthy factor even more!

View recipe here.

7. Salad Stuffed Pepper Bowls with Creamy Avocado Dressing (Vegan)

As many of you moms know, a huge part of the appeal of a meal is the presentation. These pepper bowls are such a clever idea for a kid-friendly lunch. The salad AND bowl are made from a plethora of colorful, nutritious veggies. How often do you get to tell your kids to eat their bowl? You can add a protein to the salad if you prefer, such as grilled chicken.

View recipe here.

Soup of the Day

8. Vegan Chili

This vegan chili recipe contains primarily of vegetables and beans, making it very healthy and filling. Making a flavorful and rich tasting chili doesn’t have to take all day. By blending a small portion and adding it back in, the chili will be thick and satisfying, and no one will be able to taste the difference! Make a big batch because the leftovers keep very well.

View recipe here.

9. Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Get all the flavors of chicken pot pie in half the time with this chicken pot pie soup recipe. This is such a comfort food, but also contains a lot of nutritionally dense ingredients, such as carrots, celery, peas, corn and green beans. The crust and filling are cooked separately, which is a major time saver for busy moms.

View recipe here.

10. Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Another spin on the beloved taco, a fan favorite of young kids. This recipe is slow cooker friendly, so you can prep all of the ingredients in the morning, throw it in the slow cooker and come back to a house smelling of aromatic taco soup. Serve with tortilla chips or over a baked potato.

View recipe here.

Oodles of Noodles

11. Baked Eggplant Parmesan Penne

Swap out typical Chicken Parmesan with healthier but just as tasty eggplant, which is sauteed instead of deep fried. But you don’t have to sacrifice the crunch from the breading by adding panko on top. You can also use whole wheat pasta to cut calories and add fiber, minerals, and protein.

View recipe here.

12. Roasted Chicken and Tomato Pesto Spaghetti Florentine

This recipe incorporates roasted grape tomatoes, baby spinach leaves and rotisserie chicken breast for a light and easy lunchtime pasta. You can make your own homemade pesto if you have the ingredients on hand. Store-bought also works just as well.

View recipe here.

13. Thai Noodle Salad (Vegan)

Filling your meals with plants of different colors will ensure that you are getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need. This recipe alone covers four colors! You can use any type of noodle (wheat, rice, soba, etc.) to make this dish, and customize the veggies to your heart’s content.

View recipe here.

14. Southwest Pasta Salad (Vegetarian)

This pasta salad is bursting with flavor — with tons of spices, lime juice and chipotle peppers. Don’t worry about making too much because the leftovers will be even more flavorful, after marinating in all of the seasonings overnight. And there is no heating needed! Use a lentil and quinoa pasta to make this dish gluten free.

View recipe here.

15. Avocado Hummus Pasta (Vegan)

This recipe is one that I created when I had no clue what to do with the vegetables, ripe avocados and leftover hummus I had to use up in my fridge. The textures and flavors of each ingredient somehow just works magically together. The creaminess from the avocado and hummus ties it all together. This accidental discovery is a huge hit with my husband and son!

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

A 30-minute creamy vegan pasta loaded with veggies and tossed in a creamy sauce made from ripe avocados and hummus.

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rotini pasta (substitute as needed)
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • 8 oz sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped
  • 3 oz sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
  • 2-3 ripe avocados, chunks
  • 10 oz hummus, any flavor
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.
  2. Chop veggies and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to a large saucepan. Saute minced garlic until aromatic. Add mushrooms, asparagus, cucumber, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute until tender.
  4. Add pasta, avocado, and hummus to the pan and mix gently.
  5. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  6. Serve warm. Store leftovers in the fridge for a few days.

Some Assembly Required

16. French Bread Pizza

This is one of the most versatile recipes I’ve ever come across. Not only can you completely customize the toppings on the pizza, you don’t even have to use French bread. Deli rolls, Italian rolls or hoagie rolls work just as well! The possibilities of toppings that you can add are endless. Have your kids customize their own individual pizzas with their favorite toppings to ensure they will create a meal they love.

View recipe here.

17. Rainbow Pizza

Look at the colors on this pizza! Not only is this pizza visually appealing, it’s also extremely healthy and delicious. The combination of bell peppers, broccoli, red cabbage and beets add a variety of complementary textures and flavors to this creative pizza recipe.

View recipe here.

18. Asian Lettuce Wraps

Chicken lettuce wraps are a crowd-pleaser at P.F. Chang’s, but there’s no reason you can’t make a just as good if not better version at home. Requiring only 15 minutes, these lettuce wraps are scrumptious and fun to eat. Your kids will love assembling their own lettuce wraps and devouring this healthy lunch.

View recipe here.

19. Fish Tacos

Another way to get kids to eat fish is to serve them into tacos! These flaky pieces of fish are topped with a tangy, crunchy slaw loaded with veggies. The fish can be pan-fried or grilled and served in a flour or corn tortilla. Your kids will be requesting this dish over and over again.

View recipe here.

20. Skirt Steak Fajitas

This tortilla friendly recipe that incorporates skirt steak, onions and bell peppers has decided to go the fajita route. All of these ingredients can be combined on one baking sheet. That means fewer dishes and easier clean-up! You can serve with your favorite toppings such as avocado, sour cream, salsa and shredded cheese.

View recipe here.

No Utensils Needed

21. Avocado Egg Salad Wraps

Eggs are a great ingredient to include in a nutrient-dense lunch for growing kids. Egg salad is one of the best ways to serve it, but the large amounts of mayonnaise introduces a lot of unnecessary saturated fats. This recipe cuts out a lot of the mayo and uses nature’s mayo — avocados, for creaminess.

View recipe here.

22. Spicy Tuna Avocado Wrap

Canned tuna is such a convenient ingredient and is also a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and potassium. This wrap contains lots of hearty vegetables and uses avocado and Dijon mustard to flavor the tuna. Sriracha is used for added spice if your kids can handle spicy food! These wraps can be packed easily in a lunch box to take to school.

View recipe here.

23. Chicken and Avocado Roll-Ups

These easy roll-ups take only 10 minutes to make! And they’re packed with great veggies like avocados, tomatoes and onions. You can pack it with even more veggies like spinach, cucumber, or whatever you might have in your fridge.

View recipe here.

24. White Bean Veggie Burgers (Vegan)

Do you have kids that love eating burgers? These 100% vegan burgers with plant-based bacon and cheese will be so delicious that they won’t even realize they’re not eating meat. Beans contain lots of vitamins and fiber and are a great source of protein. You can bake or grill these delectable burger patties.

View recipe here.

25. Turkey Spinach Slider

One of the problems with turkey burgers is that they can be flavorless and unappetizing when prepared incorrectly. This recipe incorporates ingredients that pack a punch like cumin and garlic. There’s also spinach leaves blended right into the patty, but your kids will be too busy chowing down to even notice!

View recipe here.

Making healthy lunches for home or school doesn’t have to be daunting task. Armed with these recipes, you have all the tools you need to find meals that the pickiest of eaters will enjoy.

By incorporating nutritional but less appealing ingredients into forms your kids recognize and love, you can introduce them to new flavors and hopefully, open their minds to trying new things.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

The post 25 Tasty and Healthy Kids’ Lunch Ideas for Home or School appeared first on Lifehack.

How to Help Your Child Develop Empathy – Claire Lerner

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Empathy is the ability to imagine how someone else is feeling in a particular situation and respond with care. This is a very complex skill to develop. Being able to empathize with another person means that a child:

  • Understands that he is a separate individual, his own person;
  • Understands that others can have different thoughts and feelings than he has;
  • Recognizes the common feelings that most people experience—happiness, surprise, anger, disappointment, sadness, etc.;
  • Is able to look at a particular situation (such as watching a peer saying good-bye to a parent at child care) and imagine how he—and therefore his friend—might feel in this moment; and
  • Can imagine what response might be appropriate or comforting in that particular situation—such as offering his friend a favorite toy or teddy bear to comfort her.

Milestones in Empathy

Understanding and showing empathy is the result of many social-emotional skills that are developing in the first years of life. Some especially important milestones include:

  • Establishing a secure, strong, loving relationship with you. Feeling accepted and understood by you helps your child learn how to accept and understand others as he grows.
  • Beginning to use social referencing, at about 6 months old. This is when a baby will look to a parent or other loved one to gauge his or her reaction to a person or situation. For example, a 7-month-old looks carefully at her father as he greets a visitor to their home to see if this new person is good and safe. The parent’s response to the visitor influences how the baby responds. (This is why parents are encouraged to be upbeat and reassuring—not anxiously hover—when saying good-bye to children at child care. It sends the message that “this is a good place” and “you will be okay.”) Social referencing, or being sensitive to a parent’s reaction in new situations, helps the babies understand the world and the people around them.
  • Developing a theory of mind. This is when a toddler (between 18 and 24 months old) first realizes that, just as he has his own thoughts, feelings and goals, others have their own thoughts and ideas, which may be different from his.
  • Recognizing one’s self in a mirror. This occurs between 18 and 24 months and signals that a child has a firm understanding of himself as a separate person.

What You Can Do To Nurture Empathy in Your Toddler

Empathize with your child. Are you feeling scared of that dog? He is a nice dog but he is barking really loud. That can be scary. I will hold you until he walks by.

Talk about others’ feelings. Kayla is feeling sad because you took her toy car. Please give Kayla back her car and then you choose another one to play with.

Suggest how children can show empathy. Let’s get Jason some ice for his boo-boo.

Read stories about feelings.

Some suggestions include:

  • I Am Happy: A Touch and Feel Book of Feelings
  • My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
  • How Are You Peeling by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers
  • Feelings by Aliki
  • The Feelings Book by Todd Parr
  • Baby Happy Baby Sad by Leslie Patricelli
  • Baby Faces by DK Publishing
  • When I Am/Cuando Estoy by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza

Be a role model. When you have strong, respectful relationships and interact with others in a kind and caring way, your child learns from your example.

Use “I” messages. This type of communication models the importance of self-awareness: I don’t like it when you hit me. It hurts.

Validate your child’s difficult emotions. Sometimes when our child is sad, angry, or disappointed, we rush to try and fix it right away, to make the feelings go away because we want to protect him from any pain. However, these feelings are part of life and ones that children need to learn to cope with. In fact, labeling and validating difficult feelings actually helps children learn to handle them: You are really mad that I turned off the TV. I understand. You love watching your animal show. It’s okay to feel mad. When you are done being mad you can choose to help me make a yummy lunch or play in the kitchen while mommy makes our sandwiches. This type of approach also helps children learn to empathize with others who are experiencing difficult feelings.

Use pretend play. Talk with older toddlers about feelings and empathy as you play. For example, you might have your child’s stuffed hippo say that he does not want to take turns with his friend, the stuffed pony. Then ask your child: How do you think pony feels? What should we tell this silly hippo?

Think through the use of “I’m sorry.” We often insist that our toddlers say “I’m sorry” as a way for them to take responsibility for their actions. But many toddlers don’t fully understand what these words mean. While it may feel “right” for them to say “I’m sorry”, it doesn’t necessarily help toddlers learn empathy. A more meaningful approach can be to help children focus on the other person’s feelings: Chandra, look at Sierra—she’s very sad. She’s crying. She’s rubbing her arm where you pushed her. Let’s see if she is okay. This helps children make the connection between the action (shoving) and the reaction (a friend who is sad and crying).

Be patient. Developing empathy takes time. Your child probably won’t be a perfectly empathetic being by age three. (There are some teenagers and even adults who haven’t mastered this skill completely either!) In fact, a big and very normal part of being a toddler is focusing on me, mine, and I. Remember, empathy is a complex skill and will continue to develop across your child’s life.

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Adults Play A Big Part In Kids Developing Empathy Early, Study Says

Experts are still not agreed on when exactly kids develop the all-too-important quality of empathy, but a new study has suggested that adults have quite a large impact on children exhibiting this ability early in life.

More specifically, attentive adults engaged with kids in social situations can help youngsters demonstrate this quality earlier than the age of four, which is when previous studies say children start to show empathy. Being able to empathise, understanding others’ emotions and perspective, is key for socialising.

Developmental psychologist Elia Psouni and her colleagues assessed if children showed empathy in its simplest form, by determining if the kids could comprehend that another person has a false belief about something because they lack information.

The research team at Lund University in Sweden asked children aged 33-to-54 months old what would happen next in a story that had been interrupted.

They were looking to see if the participants would predict that the story’s main character would make a ‘wrong move’ because they had a false belief.

The researchers were also seeing if kids were better at doing this when with an adult who was busy with another activity, or an attentive adult engaged in the story, too.

The character in the story, Maxi, was playing outdoors and then decided to go inside to play with his toy plane. Unbeknownst to Maxi, his dad moved the plane while he was outside.

The kids were then asked where Maxi would look for the plane. Usually children younger than four would answer that Maxi would look for the plane where it actually is, even though Maxi doesn’t know that his father moved it.

However, even some of the youngest kids in this study correctly predicted that Maxi would look for the plane in its old location – when they took the test while with an engaged adult.

“Many children correctly detected and told us about Maxi’s false belief, i.e. that Maxi would look for the plane where he actually left it,” Psouni told Science Daily.

“Surprisingly, these children did not remember the story as a whole better than other children, but specifically noticed and mentioned the fact that daddy moved the toy when Maxi was not there, indicating that they paid closer attention to this particular feature of the story.”

This study shows how kids can understand the perspectives of others younger than experts previously believed.

Kids who answered the question about Maxi while on their own failed at making the correct prediction as often as their peers who took the test but with an unengaged adult, showing how important an adult’s attention is, not just their presence.

“Being in the same room as the child is not enough. It is the active engagement of the adult together with the child that makes the difference,” Psouni explained. What do you think of the study’s findings?

Childhood Emotional Neglect And Codependency

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What is Childhood Emotional Neglect?

Do you feel empty and disconnected? Do you sense that you’re different than everyone else, but you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong? Childhood Emotional Neglect is a powerful experience, but one that often goes unnoticed and untreated. In fact, many people who experienced Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) describe their childhood as “good” and it’s only on closer examination that they recognize that something important was missing.

Your childhood experiences played a huge part in shaping you into the adult you are today. Children rely on their parents to meet their physical and emotional needs. And significant, but invisible, damage is done when parents fail to meet their children’s emotional needs.

Childhood Emotional Neglect is the result of your parent’s inability to validate and respond adequately to your emotional needs. Childhood emotional neglect can be hard to identify because it’s what didn’t happen in your childhood. It doesn’t leave any visible bruises or scars, but it’s hurtful and confusing for children.

Dr. Webb told me via email that “CEN happens when your parents fail to respond enough to your emotional needs while they are raising you. When you grow up this way, you learn the powerful lesson that your emotions do not matter, and you then continue to live your life this way. There are legions of people walking around with an empty space where their own lively feelings should be. Sadly, they all are lacking healthy access to a vital resource from within that could be connecting, motivating, guiding and enriching them: their own feelings.”

What does Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) look like?

In an emotionally neglectful family, you might have come home upset because you didn’t make the basketball team, but when you tried to talk to your Mom about it, she shooed you away saying she was busy working. And when your grandma died your father told you “boys don’t cry” and no one helped you process your grief. Or it might have been that you spent hours and hours isolated in your room as a teenager and no one asked how you were feeling or if something was wrong. When this happens consistently, you feel unloved and unseen.

CEN can co-occur with physical abuse and neglect and is rampant in families where a parent is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or any compulsive behavior, or mentally ill. But many people who experienced Childhood Emotional Neglect grew up in families without obvious dysfunction. They weren’t beaten or belittled. Their parents were well-meaning but lacked the emotional skills themselves to notice and tend to their children’s feelings. Such parents never learned to cope with their feelings or express them in healthy ways and don’t know how to deal with their children’s feelings either.

Many adults who experienced emotional neglect look like they’ve got it all together on the outside. They’re successful and have a happy family, but there’s a nagging sense of emptiness, not fitting in, and that they’re different, but there isn’t anything obviously wrong.

Symptoms of Childhood Emotional Neglect include:

  • Emptiness
  • Loneliness
  • Feeling something’s fundamentally wrong with you
  • Feeling unfulfilled even when you’re successful
  • Difficulty connecting with most of your feelings, not feeling anything
  • Burying, avoiding, or numbing your feelings
  • Feeling out of place or like you don’t fit in
  • Difficulty asking for help and not wanting to depend on others
  • Depression and anxiety
  • High levels of guilt, shame, and/or anger
  • Lack of deep, intimate connection with your friends and spouse
  • Feeling different, unimportant or inadequate
  • Difficult with self-control (this could be overeating or drinking)
  • People-pleasing and focusing on other people’s needs
  • Not having a good sense of who you are, your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses

What are the effects of childhood emotional neglect?

Your feelings are a core part of who you are, so when they aren’t noticed or validated you come to believe that you aren’t important because you aren’t “seen” and known. In emotionally neglectful families, the message is that feelings don’t matter, they’re an inconvenience, or they’re wrong. Naturally, you learn not to value your feelings; you push your feelings away or numb them with food, alcohol, drugs, or sex.

When your emotional needs aren’t met and your internal state isn’t acknowledged, you’ll be disconnected from yourself. You will constantly seek attention and try to prove your worth through clingy or needy behaviors, perfectionism, overworking, and achievements. But these external validations never fix the problem; they never leave you feeling good enough.

Feelings serve to let us know what we need. For example, if you don’t notice when you’re getting frustrated, you won’t be able to find a healthy resolution or outlet for your anger and you’re likely to let it fester until you explode.

Lack of emotional attunement also makes it hard for you to deeply connect with others and understand your spouse and children’s feelings.

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Codependency

I have been counseling Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOAs) and people struggling with codependency for almost two decades. When I started learning about Childhood Emotional Neglect, I immediately noticed a big overlap between CEN and codependency or ACOA issues. It makes sense that if you grew up with an alcoholic or otherwise impaired caregiver, your emotional needs weren’t noticed and met.

Childhood Emotional Neglect and codependency have the same root cause. Both begin in childhood and tend to be passed unknowingly from one generation to the next. CEN and codependency aren’t the result of you being inadequate or doing something “wrong”, but they continue to make it difficult for you to have a healthy loving relationship with yourself and others in adulthood.

Individuals with CEN and codependency have in common a tendency toward:

  • Perfectionism
  • People-pleasing
  • Low self-worth, feeling inadequate
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Sensitivity to criticism
  • Lack of awareness of their feelings
  • Discomfort with strong emotions
  • Putting other people’s needs before their own
  • Difficulty trusting
  • Difficulty asserting their needs

12 ways to help your child prepare for Kindergarten – OCSB – Register anytime at Ottawa Catholic! | iGeneration – 21st Century Education (Pedagogy & Digital Innovation)

Source: 12 ways to help your child prepare for Kindergarten – OCSB – Register anytime at Ottawa Catholic! | iGeneration – 21st Century Education (Pedagogy & Digital Innovation)