Welcome to Emparenting!

 

Why Empathy?

 

Empathy — our ability as parents to identify with our children’s feelings and to express that to them — is the most important tool in our parenting arsenal.  It is essential for building our kids’ self-esteem and for teaching them critical social skills — skills that enable healthy, rewarding relationships with friends, siblings and parents.

 

What exactly happens when we empathize with our children?

 

First, we teach them that their feelings are important, that their needs and desires are worthy of being treated seriously.  Tacitly, we are teaching them that they are human beings worthy of respect.  This is crucial for their developing sense of self.

 

Next, when we encourage our kids to approach their friends and family members with that same sense of empathy — the same sensitivity towards the feelings of others — we are building the foundations of our children’s moral character while at the same time encouraging their healthy social development.

 

Children with a highly developed sense of empathy tend to choose friends who see them as equals and who are less likely to use manipulative social strategies against them.  Kids who empathize tend to form more lasting and meaningful friendships, they are less likely to be socially isolated, and they are less likely to engage in risky behaviors when they reach adolescence.

 

 

Scientific basis

 

Emparenting!, in teaching empathic parenting practices, utilizes many of the communication techniques first outlined by noted child psychologist Haim Ginott and later popularized by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish’s in their wonderful guide How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. The research of psychologist John Gottman has provided strong empirical evidence for Ginott’s theories, and Gottman has added to his mentor’s legacy with the Emotion Coaching techniques he describes in his more recent works. Gottman’s research has shown that Emotion Coaching, beyond its social and emotional benefits, makes for a healthier childhood — that emotion-coached kids have lower standing heart rates, handle stress better, and suffer from fewer physical complaints and infectious diseases than other children!

 

 

Why Empowerment?

 

Giving our kids the tools to solve their own problems,  to make their own decisions, and to chart out their own personal goals — these are the keys to building strong motivation and a sense of responsibility in our children.  Empowered children discover many of life’s most important lessons early on,  and start practicing them from a young age.

 

How does empowering a child affect his or her life?

 

First, by encouraging our children to make their own decisions and carry them through, we teach kids that we BELIEVE in their ability to handle matters on their own.  When they realize that they are in fact CAPABLE of handling these situations, our children come to believe in themselves!  Empowerment is extremely effective in bolstering our children’s sense of self-efficacy, the belief in their ability to achieve the goals they set for themselves.

 

Empowered children believe that they are the masters of their own fate, and that if they try hard enough, they can succeed.  Empowered kids do not shy away from challenges, they look forward to achieving their next milestone.

 

There are motivational benefits as well. When kids have a hand in making the decisions that affect them, they have a personal stake in carrying out those decisions. So empowered kids are often extremely motivated, and have a great degree of accountability to their goals and responsibility in seeing them through.

 

 

Theoretical basis

 

Utilizing the research of noted psychologist Albert Bandura and empowering techniques such as those offered by Stepehen Covey in his latest book The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child At a Time, Emparenting! shows parents how to empower their kids so they will get the most out of their childhood!

 

What About Discipline?

 

Empathy and empowerment also provide an excellent alternative framework for guiding our children behaviorally. Rather than the usual instinctive reflex-reaction to our kids’ misbehavior — either yelling at them or sending them directly to time-out — Emparenting! stresses the importance of first trying to see things from our children’s perspective.  Once we’ve empathized with them and better understand their motives, we are in a much better position to talk to them and our kids are in a much better position to listen to what we have to say.

 

By empathizing and communicating, both parents and kids come to understand the root of any behavioral problem.  And once we better understand the problem, we can empower our children to come up with solutions that are more respectful of everyone involved!

 

 

Who We Are

 

Emparenting! is a blog written by Lila and Elli.  We are not experts, but rather PARENTS — parents of children with very different personalities each of whom requires their own special loving touch.

We started the blog as a place where we can share our struggles and dilemmas, and create a conversation about what it really means to Emparent.  Emparenting doesn’t come easy, and requires a lot of self-discipline and patience.  Our hope is that in writing this blog we will improve our own parenting skills, and that it will help us be the mindful parents we want to be.

 

 

Read more on the importance of modeling empathy for our kids.