How to teach kids empathy

1:10 pm 27 April 2021 Jose Fernandez 0 Comments

I recently shared a post on social media about the language parents use when communicating with children about their emotions. In the post, I recommended that parents avoid telling their kids that their actions “make” them feel sad (or happy, or angry or…well…you get the drift). And it caused a bit of a stir. Many people who commented on the post believed that using this language was teaching their kids empathy. They were surprised to learn that I didn’t agree. And they were left wondering how to teach kids empathy, if that wasn’t it.

So let me explain. Here’s how we really teach kids empathy.

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You don’t need to teach your child to share

1:08 pm 27 April 2021 Jose Fernandez 0 Comments

Share. If you have young children, you probably say, or hear, that word about eleventy million times a day. Every time you go to a park, a playground, a playcentre, on a playdate, to a party. In your own lounge room. Dining room. Bedroom. Playroom. Hey, probably even the bathroom. We spend A LOT of time as parents encouraging our kids to share.

And I get it. None of us wants to be the parent of ‘that’ child. We are terrified that if we don’t teach our kids how to share when they are young, they will grow up to be selfish and entitled. The kid no one invites to parties or playdates. We don’t want that for our kids. Or for ourselves!

We want to raise kind, generous kids who get along well with others. And it’s our job to guide them and teach them and ensure that happens right? But what if what we’re doing is actually making things worse?

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Does a calm down corner teach kids to hide emotions?

1:08 pm 31 January 2021 Jose Fernandez 0 Comments

Earlier this week one of my lovely Mindfulness for Children brought a post about calming tools and calm down corners to my attention. The post suggested that using calming tools for kids was teaching them to shut down their emotions. That using a calm down corner with kids sends them the message that we do not want to hear about their big, “negative” emotions. And that placing too much emphasis on calming down is simply another way of distracting children from emotions and teaching them to hide them from us.

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9 tips for a happy, successful school year

1:10 pm 23 January 2021 Jose Fernandez 0 Comments

The start of the school year brings with it all sorts of emotions. Nervous excitement. Hopeful anticipation. Happiness to be reunited with friends. Relief to be returning to routine and structure. Disappointment over the end of summer holidays that always feel too short. Dread over the return of those blasted school lunches. And of course, fear and anxiety about what the new school year may bring.

But ultimately, as our precious, back-pack laden babes head bravely into a new school year, most parents are wishing for the same thing. We want our kids to have a happy, successful school year. Whatever that may look like for them.

And with a little bit of forward planning, we can ensure our children really thrive at school this year. We can equip them with the tools, skills and support they need to have a successful school year. Here’s how.

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Name it to tame it: How labelling emotions helps kids manage them

1:19 pm 16 January 2021 Jose Fernandez 0 Comments

If you’re a parent, then you have no doubt witnessed some BIG emotions in your children. And a lot of the time, those big emotions can really leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to respond. But of course, you do want to help your children in these moments, right?! So maybe you try to do or say things to ease their distress.

However, our attempts to help our children are sometimes not very effective, or can even make the situation worse. And that’s because we often attempt to distract them from their emotions, or try to convince them that things are not so bad. And while this is well intentioned, it can be experienced by our children as dismissive and invalidating. Do any of these sound familiar?

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nature and wellbeing; 5 mindfulness-based activities for teens to reconnect with nature this winter season

7:44 am 16 January 2021 Jose Fernandez 0 Comments

Shortened cold, gray and damp days are hardly elements that motivate us to get outside, right?  When I talk with teens in my office about spending time in nature, particularly in the winter months, the conversation quickly shifts to avoiding the cold and waiting until Spring when things warm up and everything starts to brighten and bloom again.  

I get it. We’re more inclined to associate winter as a time for solitude and it's important to make time for rest, but the reality is when we allow the conditions of each season to control our relationship with the natural world, our preferences may result in waiting out the “uncomfortable” for the more “comfortable”  and before we know it, we can end up spending days, even months stuck inside.

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