empathy: 4 Articles

My Story Friend: Interview with the Author

There is the person who tells the story. This is the storyteller. And there is the person who listens to the story. This is the story friend. Kalli Dakos' My Story Friend shows the journey of a child looking for his story friend. Magination Press interviewed Ms. Dakos about creating this beautiful picture book. Magination Press: What inspired you to write My Story Friend? Kalli Dakos: I’ve worked with students for over thirty years and have written over 3,000 poems about life in our classrooms and our schools. In order to write these poems, I had to listen carefully to the students’ stories.  I became a “listener” at a very deep level. For example, when I found a child “hiding in the bathroom,” I listened carefully to the story behind his decision to hide there and to the feelings that he expressed. Then I was able to write a poem that all students would understand. Children want someone to really listen to them. We are a very busy society and there are so many expectations put upon parents and teachers. But I believe that taking the time to encourage our children to share their stories and their feelings is a form of the greatest love.    MP: Why is it important for people to be able to tell their stories? KD: To be heard, to be understood at a deep level, is something we all crave. It helps us to feel that we are not alone in this world and that our Story Friend really has our best interests at heart. The child in my book went looking for this experience and found it with the old woman who had both the time and the heart to really listen to his story and the feelings behind them. He was amazed at how much the simple act of telling his story helped him to understand his problems at a deep level where the solutions could also be found. He learned the value of “listening” at this level and became a Story Friend himself.   MP: Why is it important for people to listen to other people’s stories? KD: Storytelling was used long ago before psychology and psychiatry as healing medicine, and the storyteller was often the most honored member of the tribe or society. It is this healing quality of storytelling that makes it so important through all of time.   MP: The boy in the book struggles to find someone to listen to his story. He doesn’t feel he can tell his family, and two other grown-ups tell him they don’t want to listen to his story. What does it take to be a Story Friend? How can someone become a Story Friend if they are not one? KD: It takes a great deal of practice to listen deeply to a child’s story. Adults want to jump in and either tell the child what to do or move on to something else that they think is more important. Their

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My Story Friend: Interview with the Author 2021-05-17T23:24:35-04:00

Nurturing Strong Emotional Skills in Children: Why and How

Humans grow and develop quickly, both physically and emotionally, throughout childhood and adolescence. In addition to physical changes, children are also developing at a rapid pace emotionally, intellectually, and socially. Helping your child develop their emotional intelligence can provide them with skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.  Magination Press book, A Box of Butterflies, by Jo Rooks, explores emotions and the situations that may cause them. Psychologist Elizabeth McCallum, PhD, provides a Note to Parents and Caregivers in the book, exploring the whys and hows of supporting emotional development. Why support emotional skill development? Research on emotional development has shown a correlation between certain skills and positive outcomes such as strong relationships, high-self esteem, and overall happiness. Some of these skills are self-regulation, emotional self-awareness, and the ability to identify emotions in others. Self-Regulation: the ability to monitor and manage one’s own emotional state and behavior.  Emotional Self-awareness: the ability to understand one’s own emotions and how they impact one’s behavior. This knowledge allows people to reliably predict how they will respond to certain environmental circumstances. Identifying Emotions in Others: this skill has been linked to success in social relationships, academics, and the workforce. Individuals with this ability tend to be more empathetic. How to support emotional skill development Each child develops their emotional skills differently. Some may have strong emotional skills fairly young and others make take longer to develop. Other factors like individual temperament and cultural differences can also impact development. Regardless of the developmental level of a child’s emotional skills, parents and caregivers can support a child’s emotional skill development using these evidence-based strategies. Learn to Recognize Your Child’s Emotional Responses Some of your child’s emotions may be easier to recognize than others. Joy or anger may be more obvious than shame, guilt, or embarrassment. Particularly when your child’s emotions are hidden, it is especially important to pay attention to their words, body language, and behavior as they may provide clues as to how your child is feeling. Help Your Child Learn to Identify Their Own Emotional Responses When your child  seems to be feeling a particular emotion, help them label that emotion and discuss the possible events that may have contributed to that feeling. This will help them learn to predict the types of situations and events that are linked to certain emotional reactions in themselves.  Help Your Child Develop Empathy You can promote empathy by talking to your child about how others in distress (in real life, in books, on TV, etc.) may be feeling. Another way to encourage empathy is to help children see what they have in common with others. Meeting and learning about people from diverse backgrounds has been shown to increase empathy and overall emotional skills. Model Appropriate Emotional Skills Demonstrate appropriate emotional skills and discuss how you manage your emotions even when it is difficult. For example, when someone cuts in front of you and your child in line at the grocery store, take a moment

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Nurturing Strong Emotional Skills in Children: Why and How 2021-02-11T17:00:06-05:00

Loving-kindness Meditation: Five Pointers to Help Kids Get Started

Thinking good thoughts about themselves and others can help kids be happier and healthier. Loving-kindness meditation toward themselves and others can comfort and strengthen young hearts. Loving-kindness is a kind of heart meditation that consists of sending of sending love, kindness, and compassion by directing positive thoughts, good intentions, or well wishes toward ourselves and others. When people practice loving-kindness meditation on a regular basis, they feel a sense of goodness about themselves and others. It produces a reaction in the brain similar to when one engages in acts of kindness, producing positive feelings which can lead to positive behaviors. Practicing loving-kindness meditation has been shown to: Decrease stress and anxiety Increase feelings of hope Reduce feelings of anger  Increase empathy Increase feelings of self-esteem and decrease self-criticism In Magination Press book, Bee Heartful: Spread Loving-Kindness by Frank J. Sileo, PhD, Bentley Bee sends loving-kindness thoughts to himself and others, and can feel his heart growing. This excerpt from the “Note to Adult Beekeepers” describes how to practice loving-kindness meditation with children. Loving-kindness meditation is great for kids because it is more concrete and structured than other forms of meditation. The child recites specific phases and brings up images in their minds of the people they are sending loving-kindness to.  It’s important that children understand that when they send loving-kindness thoughts to others, it may not change the other person or how that person feels about them. Loving-kindness does not work like magic or serve as some type of spell on another person. The meditation is more focused on the meditator developing loving-kindness toward others. Getting Started Mediation is a quiet activity, so you want to choose a place for your child that is free from distractions. It can be a room in your home, someplace outside like a garden or patio, or any place without interruptions.  They can sit on the floor, a mat, a pillow or in a chair, or lie down. They can close their eyes or cast their eyes downward and a few feet in front of them. This will help avoid any visual distractions. Your child can place one or both hands on their heart and take three deep breaths. Ask your child to repeat these phrases silently in their head a few times. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I be peaceful. After your child sends loving-kindness intentions toward themselves, they can use the same intention toward other people. Keep it short at first Sitting still and focusing can be challenging for children and adults alike. Keeping meditation short in the beginning can be helpful in maintaining young children’s interest, attention, and focus. For young children, 3-5 minutes is a good starting point. You can gradually increase the time as children mature and their practice grows. Mix up the loving-kindness intentions Your child can vary the practice of loving-kindness meditation by varying who they pick to send intentions to. A common approach is to send loving-kindness

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Loving-kindness Meditation: Five Pointers to Help Kids Get Started 2019-12-16T14:27:42-05:00