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Three Ways to Help Your Child Build Empathy

As a parent, helping a child become a confident and compassionate member of a community involves helping them develop healthy self-esteem, respect for everyone, and the ability to forgive themselves and others. In Magination Press book Red Yellow Blue, author Lysa Mullady suggests these strategies to foster empathy and cooperation: Developing Healthy Self-Esteem As caregivers, we cultivate a strong self-image in our children by helping them discover their unique talents. To develop positive self-worth in a child, start with open and honest dialog. Ask questions about what they like and prefer. When a caregiver acknowledges a child’s preferences, they validate the child’s unique likes. Providing opportunities for children to choose what they like, and valuing their choices, guides children to feel special for who they are. Encourage children to explore and develop their unique interests. Start by taking notice of what they choose to do with their independent time. Observing kids doing what they like to do may help parents uncover unique capabilities like artististic creativity, natural athleticism, or scientific curiosity.  Encourage kids to try new things often. It’s not usual for a child’s interests to change. Look for enjoyment, not proficiency. A child may love an activity, but have to work hard to master it. It is more important that a child is trying and having fun than it is to be the most talented in the arena. Having a strong sense of purpose and accomplishment are also essential to healthy self-esteem. When children are given a responsibility, their actions help the whole family. Look for age-appropriate jobs kids can do in daily routines. Then, make the connection between the child’s efforts and the positive effect they have on others. Putting their shoes away keeps everyone safe from tripping over them. Taking plates from the table to the sink makes a big job easier for the person doing the washing. Point out how everyone benefits from the child’s assistance.  Promoting Respect for Everyone Self-respect is feeling good about who you are. Dignity is feeling worthy of honor and treating others with the same admiration. We are all important as individuals. We also live in communities with others. Young children are, by nature, self-centered. They see the world as it relates to themselves and their own experiences. As they grow, they need opportunities to develop social skills and empathy. Positive communication is necessary to work productively in a group. Practicing active listening and speaking with children by picking a topic and talking about it. Reflect what the child says and follow up with a question. It doesn’t matter what is discussed; make bantering back and forth fun. When a child is upset, teach them how to talk about their feelings. While using a quiet voice, fill in the blanks: “I feel ______ when _____ .” It is essential that children learn how to speak to others in a peaceful way, even when frustrated. Relating to others in a positive way is the key to collaboration. Fostering Forgiveness for Self

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Three Ways to Help Your Child Build Empathy 2019-07-15T13:04:42-04:00

The Benefits of Expressive Writing

Expressive writing has many benefits. Writing about life helps people, among other things: get healthy! Research shows that people who write about emotional upheavals require fewer doctor visits and are generally happier. combat depression! Writing a gratitude journal helps with mood. Expressing yourself lets you ditch your stress for a while. build their brain! People best express themselves in different ways--through words, music, movement. Some people prefer to be alone to be inspired. Others think best by talking to people. Trying a variety of writing activities can spur new ways of thinking, resulting in stronger, smarter writers! Magination Press's book, Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing, provides young writers with writing prompts and book-making activities to help them learn about creative writing by honoring, strengthening, and playing with their ideas and words.  Writing activities can spark imagination and allow young writers to make their writing more powerful, but they can also help kids engage with words to be more present in life and to use language arts techniques for self-discovery and emotional well-being. Take a writing activity about antagonists, for example. In the Villainous Voices activity, writers are invited to think about a disagreement they've had with someone else, but from their adversary's point of view. In a story, the reader sides with the protagonist: the main character, the lead actor. It's the character we find ourselves rooting for. The antagonist, on the other hand, is often the one who causes problems: the villain, the one who creates the story's tension. They're the character we hope gets the short end of the stick. Have you ever read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by "A. Wolf"? (The author is really Jon Scieszka.) As the title suggests, you don't usually hear the wolf's take on the classic folk tale. In Wicked, Gregory Maguire writes a back story for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, giving the villain--that is, the Wicked Witch of the West--the leading role; this is a complete departure from the original.Now it's your turn. List a few people with whom you've had a disagreement. People you've argued with. People who see a situation from a different vantage point than you. Anyone in your life is fair game: Your mother Your father A sibling Other relative A friend or ex-friend A teacher A pet Think about the argument: Where were you? (scene) What happened? (action) What was said? (dialog) If it helps to take notes first, or jot down key points, go for it! Now retell that story, only this time as the person you clashed with. Invite them to speak as the protagonist. Look for the positive thinking that you couldn't see in the heat of emotion. Be honest. What do you think motivated them--and now you? Why would you want to do this? Writing-wise, it helps you get into the head of each of your characters to make them more complex, authentic, and honest. You want them to ring true, even

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The Benefits of Expressive Writing 2019-06-26T15:47:07-04:00

Helping Kids Understand Gender Nonconformity: An Interview with Jacob

Recently, Magination Press Family had the opportunity to interview Jacob, the subject of Jacob’s Room to Choose, a picture book by Sarah and Ian Hoffman. Jacob and his friend, Sophie, are gender nonconforming kindergartners. In this case, that means they both wear clothes usually associated with the opposite gender. In the story, Jacob and Sophie get chased out of the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, respectively, because other kids don’t think they belong based on their appearance. Jacob’s teacher, Jacob, and his classmates help teach other kids in the school that bathrooms are for everyone, and everyone should get to choose which bathroom they’d like to use. In the interview, Jacob shares his feelings, experiences, and favorite things. MP: In Jacob's Room to Choose, we learn about how other kids reacted to you in the bathroom at school. How did their reactions make you feel? Jacob:  Bad. MP: Can you tell me more? Jacob: Sometimes I was mad. Sometimes I was scared.  I just wanted to use the bathroom and be left alone. MP: Did it help knowing Sophie was having the same problems? Jacob: It was better not being the only one. But Sophie felt bad, too. MP: Did the lesson Ms. Reeves taught your class help? Jacob: The kids in our class knew us, so they didn’t bother us so much. It was mostly the big kids. But having everyone help teach the big kids was good. Everybody in school learned to leave other people alone in the bathroom. That made things better. MP: How do you manage other public bathrooms? Jacob: My parents go in with me. Or they send me with a group of friends, so I'm safe. MP: How do you feel when people think you're a girl? Jacob: I don’t mind. Usually I don’t correct them, because it takes too long. But if I’m going to know them, I tell them I’m a boy. Otherwise they get embarrassed. Like my art teacher! She thought I was a girl all year. When she found out I was a boy, she said, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” She was really upset, but I wasn’t. What’s wrong with being a girl? MP: What would you like other kids to know about you? Jacob: I like the things I like, just like everybody else likes the things they like. I don’t really like it when you make a big deal about the way I look. MP: Thank you for sharing your story with us in Jacob's New Dress and Jacob's Room to Choose. Do you have another book in mind? Jacob: Sarah and Ian asked me what I want people to know. There’s lots of things, so I’m helping them with another book. MP: Do you have a favorite book? Jacob: My big book of Norse myths. MP: What do you like to do at recess? Jacob: I like make-believe best. And tree climbing. MP: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Jacob: Coconut. MP: Coconut. Seriously? Jacob:

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Helping Kids Understand Gender Nonconformity: An Interview with Jacob 2019-06-19T17:36:58-04:00