Empathic Parenting - A Skills-Building Workshop


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Empathic Parenting - A Skills-Building Workshop
Part One of Three

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Empathic Parenting - A Skills-Building Workshop

  1. 1. EMPATHIC PARENTING A Skills-Building Workshop Part One© 2014 Natasha Ufema, LPC , Family First Counseling Services
  2. 2. EMPATHIC PARENTING All mammals are social animals (including humans).
  3. 3. EMPATHIC PARENTING All mammals rely on each other to get their basic needs met. Wolves hunt in packs. . .
  4. 4. EMPATHIC PARENTING Kittens and puppies rely on their mothers for protection and nourishment.
  5. 5. EMPATHIC PARENTING Reptiles (lizards) and amphibians (frogs) are lower on the food chain because they are solitary creatures. Mammals have flourished because there is safety in numbers.
  6. 6. EMPATHIC PARENTING You’re wondering what this science lesson has to do with being an effective parent.
  7. 7. EMPATHIC PARENTING Because Mammals (including humans) depend on others for safety and nourishment, we have developed ways of communicating these needs to our caregivers. Our “significant others”.
  8. 8. EMPATHIC PARENTING A baby elephant trapped in a pool of mud will trumpet for hours until his mother finds him.
  9. 9. EMPATHIC PARENTING When a human mother hears the cries of her baby, her breast milk will “let down” (become immediately available).
  10. 10. EMPATHIC PARENTING Without EMPATHY (“feeling” the needs of our offspring), Mammals would have never become the most prolific species on earth.
  11. 11. WHAT IS EMPATHY? You may already have your own definition of empathy. Lots of people confuse empathy with SYMPATHY. They are not the same things.
  12. 12. WHAT IS EMPATHY? The elephant mother AND the human mother - hearing the desperate cries of their babies - are reacting in “empathetic” and not “sympathetic” ways.
  13. 13. WHAT IS EMPATHY? SYMPATHY = Feeling bad for someone’s unfortunate plight. EMPATHY = Truly understanding how the other person is feeling.
  14. 14. WHAT IS EMPATHY? Think about a traumatic event in your life. Perhaps you: • lost a loved one • were diagnosed with cancer • survived an abusive relationship
  15. 15. WHAT IS EMPATHY? When you came into contact with someone else who experienced the same tragedy, did you feel sorry for their problem or did you actually “feel” how that might feel for them? This is empathy.
  16. 16. WHAT IS EMPATHY? Likewise, when you come into contact with someone who has had a happy experience (a mother witnessing her child’s first steps or your baby-sitter graduating from high-school), you’re better able to identify with that person’s feelings because you’ve had them yourself. This is empathy. You feel the connection.
  17. 17. WHAT IS EMPATHY? You don’t necessarily have had to experience the same thing as the other person in order to have empathy. The most important thing is to try your best to imagine the other person’s perspective. Imagine what it would be like to “walk in their shoes”, as the saying goes.
  18. 18. WHAT IS EMPATHY?
  19. 19. WHAT IS EMPATHY? It means STEPPING AWAY from ourselves and STEPPING TOWARD another person.
  20. 20. WHAT IS EMPATHY? It means putting the other person first, and truly listening if only for a short time. This “short time” can be very powerful.
  21. 21. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN Carl Rogers is the “father” of what we call Person-Centered Therapy. He believes that we all have the ability to heal ourselves if we are provided a supportive, non-judgmental, and empathic environment. “Listening” is the most important technique he uses. But not the type of “listening” most of us are accustomed to.
  23. 23. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN Rogers is emphasizing the importance of learning how to listen “empathically”. Empathic listening doesn’t mean responding with “Uh-huh”. Empathic listening doesn’t mean that we’re creating our own response (in our heads) while the other person is talking.
  27. 27. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN Native American Indians used what they called a “Talking Stick”. The person holding the stick says his piece (while others listen and don’t interrupt) and then the stick is passed along.
  29. 29. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN Too often, we as parents think our kids “don’t listen”, when in reality, we are the ones not listening.
  30. 30. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN Over 60% of our communication with others is accomplished through the use of body language. - Posture, - Eye Contact - Facial Expression Would you say the father below is engaged or disengaged with his son?
  31. 31. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN Kids have developed very creative ways to let us know when we’re NOT listening. Some of these may sound very familiar: • A four year-old only “needs you” when you’re on the telephone, • You discover your pre-teen is not at the location they promised to be, • You find candy or loose change hidden beneath your eight year-olds’ mattress. The symptoms are the same. The cause is NOT LISTENING.
  32. 32. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN DOG BITES What the heck do dog bites have to do with listening skills?!
  33. 33. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN DOG BITES happen because we weren’t listening. Just like kids, dogs communicate their discomfort in many ways. If we are not tuned into these messages, they will turn the message “up a notch” until we “hear” it.
  34. 34. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN DOG BEHAVIOR: The “whale eye”. Communicates, I’m tolerating this but I don’t like it much.
  35. 35. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN CHILD BEHAVIOR: “Checking Out” communicates, I’m tolerating this but I don’t like it much. (Notice the body language of both mother and daughter.)
  36. 36. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN DOG BEHAVIOR: “Ears back and Tail Down”. Communicates, I’m getting close to acting out to communicate my fear, dislike, or anxiety.
  37. 37. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN CHILD BEHAVIOR: “Digging Heels In” communicates that you’re making additional demands when I’m already agitated – how do you think this is going to end?
  38. 38. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN DOG BEHAVIOR: Growls or Snaps. Communicates, “I’ve had it. This is my last warning.”
  39. 39. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN CHILD BEHAVIOR: (Similar to the Dog) Growls or Snaps. Communicates, “I’ve had it. This is my last warning.”
  40. 40. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN DOG BEHAVIOR: The Bite. Communicates, “You haven’t listened to what I’ve been trying to tell you, so I’ll do this to get your attention.”
  41. 41. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN CHILD BEHAVIOR: Emotional Meltdown. Hitting, biting, kicking, spitting, throwing things, hurting himself. Communicates, “You haven’t listened to what I’ve been trying to tell you, so I’ll do this to get your attention.”
  42. 42. LEARNING HOW TO LISTEN Truly “listening” to what our kids – and our dogs – are trying to communicate can eliminate the need for them to use more destructive behaviors to get our attention. In the next section, we’ll learn how to do just that.