Posted in Family, Parenting

Raising Empathetic Kids

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back after a busy week at work. I’ve been working on my story, too, but it’s not going as fast as I hoped it would. Life keeps getting in the way. LOL.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about empathy. Did you know that kids today are 40% less empathetic than they were thirty years ago? That is a scary statistic. On the positive side though, empathy can be taught.

Good parenting is more important than ever now. Our world has changed dramatically with the surge in technological advances. With our ability to create our image on social media regardless if it is true or not, and the way our politicians spin their stories to look the best to voters is an indication these changes aren’t always positive.

So, what can parents do to make sure they’re raising empathetic kids? The first step is to make sure parents provide a positive environment where kids feel secure. This creates an environment where they feel safe and is the foundation for a positive learning environment. So, let’s talk about empathy.

 There are two types of empathy. The first is affective empathy. This is something we’re born with, and whether we develop it further depends on our experiences and environment. So how do we flex our children’s empathic muscle?

 We must help kids develop self-regulating tools. Tools that help them regulate their own negative emotions. Once they know how to handle their own emotions, they’ll be able to identify those types of emotions in others. Studies have shown kids who know how to regulate their own negative emotions show greater empathetic concern for others.

This means we acknowledge negative emotions rather than dismissing them.  Become an emotion coach. Help your child understand their emotions by labeling and defining them, then give them ways to deal with them.

Another tip is for parents to understand how guilt and shame play a role in empathy. For example,  if a child feels guilty because he made a bad choice, and it resulted in a negative outcome for another,  he’ll more than likely feel empathy toward the other child. However, if a parent tries to shame that child into feeling empathy, he won’t. He’ll resist what his parents are attempting to teach him because he doesn’t like feeling ashamed and instead of being receptive, he’ll be defensive.

Another aspect of empathy is cognitive empathy. This is where your child looks at a situation from another person’s perspective. One good way to do this is to read a story and discuss the events from the perspective of different characters. Did you know that children who read are more empathetic? Studies have shown that children who read have brains that become sensitized to the fictional characters, and this spills over into the real world by teaching kids to see things from another perspective.

So, there you have it a few tips to help teach empathy to our kids. Let’s turn that statistic around. How about you? Do you have some tried and true tips to teaching empathy? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Other articles on empathy:

https://parentingscience.com/teaching-empathy-tips/

https://parentingscience.com/emotion-coaching/

Posted in mass shootings

Another Mass Shooting: What are the Signs?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and writing. I’m trying to revise my story and make it better, so there’s a lot of noodling involved with that, but I’ve figured out how I want to put it together. Now, I just have to worry about the word count, but enough about that. Last week I spoke about raising resilient kids, and today I’d like to piggy back off of that and talk about mass shootings.

These events are on the rise in our society, and it has me worried. Many experts say mental health plays a role in these shootings, and I agree. We as parents have to do a better job of raising resilient kids, so they are less likely to have mental health problems. Studies have been conducted, and they consistently show that higher levels of resilience mean lower levels of mental health issues. So, there’s one way to solve the problem, but this is something that will take years to change.

So, what can we do now? That is a very good question. Mental health is a key factor in mass shootings. The shooter usually has some mental issue they’re dealing with, and they exhibit signs of violence before they commit the crime. There are warning signs that we have to look out for. They are listed below.

Pathway. They start planning or preparing for their attack. These mass shootings are not impulsive, they are planned, and the shooter will develop a plan and start gathering ammunition and making bombs. So, we as parents need to be vigilant if we see our children purchasing guns and ammunition, we need to step in and assess the situation, and reach out to authorities if the problem persists.

Fixation. If someone becomes fixated on a cause or a person, and they talk about violent actions. This is another big warning sign.

Identification. This is another big warning sign. A young person (usually a young male) will identify with other mass shooters before he decides to become one himself.

Energy Burst. The shooter will increase his behavior as he gathers his weapons and puts his plan into action. There will be a decline in his online activity.

Leakage. This occurs in 60 to 90% of targeted attacks, where the shooter communicates his intention to a third party, usually days or hours before the attack.

Directly Communicated Threat. This least frequent but bears acknowledgement. Most mass shooters will not directly threaten their target because they don’t want to fail in their attempt, but it does happen.

Novel Aggression. A potential shooter will test their ability to be violent by creating a one-off situation. This is usually manifests in the shooter picking a fight or killing an animal.

Last Resort. The shooter will say things illustrating an urgent need to act violently within a specific amount of time.

I received this information from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2022/05/28/8-warning-signs-mass-shooter-according-experts/9966901002/

Click the above link for more information.

The warning signs are clear, but we have to pay attention to them. What should you do if you witness a someone showing the above signs? If you’re a student, tell your principal or a teacher so they can act. If you’re an adult and you witness these signs in your neighbor or colleague, tell the authorities.  It’s their job to address situations like this.  So, there you have it. The warning signs of a mass shooter. Have you ever seen any of these signs before? What did you do? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting, Personal

Are Your Kids Resilient?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of working and running, but sadly not writing, but I hope to remedy that this weekend. But enough about that. Today, I’d like to blog about building resilience in our kids?

It seems like mass shootings are on the rise, suicides are on the rise, and our mental health is declining. These factors tell me that we need to build resilience in our kids. Life is hard and we need to help them handle the curveballs life throws at all of us.

So, how do we create resilience in our kids? I did a little research and I found there are seven key components to building resiliency.

  1. Competence.  Building competence goes beyond getting good grades. One of the best ways to build competence is to ask your child to complete a chore. Have him or her help around the house. Being able to cook and clean for themselves makes our children have confidence in their ability to take care of themselves which is also an important element of self-care.
  • Confidence. In order to build confidence, we as parents need to praise them on their efforts as opposed to their intelligence. Kids who have a high level of confidence will be able to bounce back from failing a task. They are more likely to say they’re tactic didn’t work as opposed to they don’t have the ability to do the task. This is an important distinction.

  • Connection is another key component. Our children need to feel connected to the people around them, their family and friends. Disconnection is an element in mass shootings and suicides. We can help our kids feel connected when they’re struggling to master a skill by sharing our own stories of when we struggled. Knowing that it’s normal to struggle when mastering a skill will help them to overcome their frustration and accomplish their goal.
  • Secure in their character. Studies show that children are born with an innate desire to do the right thing. We as parents can help foster that by encouraging empathic behavior and helping them develop an internal moral compass.
  • Contributors. To help kids feel like contributors, show them how their efforts made the family event a success. Have them help with dinner or with the task of cleaning up, then tell them how their efforts made the task go faster or made it easier for you. Show them their actions matter.
  • Cope. The ability to cope is another key factor in building resilience. Kids may appear confidence, but when things don’t go according to plan, they fall apart. The ability to manage difficult emotions when faced with adversity helps them view the challenge as a stumbling block. Something they can overcome as opposed to believing the task is beyond them.
  • Control. The last factor is control. When a child is raised with consistent caregivers and clear boundaries and connected to the adults in their lives, they feel less stress when challenges arise.

For more information on Building Resilience, click https://www.whitbyschool.org/passionforlearning/7-key-characteristics-of-resilient-children

So, there you have it. The seven key components to building resilience in your kids. How do you build resilience? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Personal, Entertainment

My Thoughts on the New Avatar Movie

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of work, writing, and running. The holidays are done and we’re settling in for a hibernation period at the Orchards. As I write this post, I’m sitting in front of the fire all snuggled in under my blanket. But enough about that.

Today, I’d like to talk about the movie I saw last weekend with my kids and some extended family. It was the new Avatar movie. It’s titled: “Avatar: The Way of Water.” It was amazing.

It’s three hours long, but it didn’t seem that long. There wasn’t a time when I was in the theater that I looked at my watch and wondered how much longer. I was able to see it in 3D, and it made the experience that much more vivid.

It’s the next chapter in Jake Sully’s life as a married man on Pandora. I must take a moment and say Pandora is a beautiful planet. The forests and the oceans are breathtaking, but I digress. Jake has a family. He has four kids, and he has to disappear in order to protect them from the sky people. I don’t want to give you to many more details because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

It was well written, and the storyline was believable. I would recommend taking your kids to this one. Mine enjoyed it just as much as I did.

So, there you have it. My thoughts on the new Avatar movie. Go see it! You’ll be glad you did! How about you? Any movie recommendations you can give me? I’m always looking for entertainment. 😊  

Posted in Personal

My One Little Word for 2023

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. It has been a hot minute since I’ve written a post because of the holidays. For some reason, this year seemed busier, probably because I hosted Christmas for my side of the family. My mom has finally passed the torch to me. I must say, I enjoyed hosting, but enough about that. Today, I want to talk about my one little word for 2023.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been choosing a word for the year. In the past, I’ve chosen the words strive, perseverance, and resilience. I love these words because they illustrate strength to me. This year I’m choosing the word FOCUS. I intend to focus on my goals and aspirations and ignore those pesky distractions that pull me away from my goals.

I’m going to focus on my family. We’re at a milestone this year with my oldest. He’s graduating from high school, and he’s ready to start moving into adulthood. This is a scary time for him. There are a lot of unknowns right now. He’s not sure what he wants to study in school and that weighs on him, but he’ll be all right. We’ve all been there and he’s strong and resilient, I’m sure he’ll find a path that works for him.

I’m also going to focus on my friendships and extended family. I am blessed to come from a large, loving family, and I want to extend that love back to them. When they say we can never repay our parents, that is so true. I’m also blessed with a great creative family who’ve encouraged me on my writing journey, and I appreciate them as well.

When I say focus for 2023, the thing that springs to mind is the story I’ve been working on for the last few years. It has morphed several times, and this year is the year to make those revisions and create my final draft. I’m confident the changes I’m making will bring about the results I’m striving for. I’m going to use my laser focus to accomplish that.

So, there you have it. My one little word for 2023 is focus. How about you? Do you have a word that’ll encompass your year?  Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in hiking, Holiday Posts, stress relief

Stress Relief for the Holidays

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of working, shopping, and sneaking in a little bit of writing. It’s busier during the holidays for me, so I haven’t been able to write as much as I like to.  

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about dealing with stress during the holidays. It gets busier during the Christmas season and the first thing to go is our self-care routine.

Part of my self-care routine is exercising. I run, but since I’ve developed runner’s hip, I’ve taken up the elliptical machine to give my hip a rest. But I digress, any type of exercise this time of year is an excellent stress reliever. It gets those endorphins pumping.

Another way to relieve stress is to take a few minutes and read a book. Reading for just fifteen minutes has been proven to reduce your stress level by sixty-eight percent. I love reading especially in the winter in front of the fire. It’s a great way to shut the world off and relax.

Hiking is another way to relieve stress. Just getting out into nature and breathing the fresh air clears the cobwebs, and it’s healthy for you too. Hiking in the woods is great because you’re moving and releasing those endorphins, but also because you’re in nature and the trees release phytoncides that we breathe in. These organic compounds boost our immune system. It just goes to show you we’re all connected with the earth, so we should be taking care of it, but that’s another blog post for another time.

Some people take up knitting or crocheting to relieve stress. I haven’t done this, but I’ve heard it’s an excellent way to relax. I’ve taken up painting, but since I’ve been writing, I haven’t had time to paint like I want to. I need to practice and strengthen my skills there. I’ll never be an artist, but it’s fun to take a break and paint.

Another excellent way to relieve stress is yoga. How could I forget yoga? It’s a great way to stretch those muscles and relieve the stress of sitting at a desk all day. I’ve always found yoga has relaxed me, and made me more aware at the same time.

So there, you have it. Some stress relieving activities for the holidays. What are some of the ways you relieve stress? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Holiday Posts, Parenting, Personal, social media

Be Present This Holiday Season

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work and writing and Christmas shopping. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and this year, I’m hosting Christmas dinner for my extended family. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but I do enjoy these family events, and the shopping! I love picking out gifts for my loved ones. But enough about that.

Christmas, Be Present This Holiday Season, Lisa Orchard
Photo credit: Trey Ratcliff on Visualhunt

Today, I’d like to talk about being present this holiday season. I’ve noticed over the past year that many people take selfies when they’re out with loved ones and post them on social media. I know this is important when you’re building your brand, but we are so much more than our image on social media.

I challenge everyone to be present with your family and friends this holiday season. Make sure this season is about them and not building your brand. Take pictures for the memories and don’t worry about social media. You can always go back to building your brand after the holidays.

Really enjoy the moment whatever it may be. If you go to a Christmas parade, don’t just take a selfie and be done with it. Put the camera away and be present with your companions. We won’t get these moments back, and they’re so much more satisfying than getting hearts and likes on social media.

Christmas Parade, Parade, Lisa Orchard, Be Present this Holiday Season
Photo credit: jackoraptor on VisualHunt.com

This is how we get our connections back. This is how we strengthen our bonds with our families and friends. This is how we fight disconnection. We can’t afford to become more disconnected than we already are. Research has shown that increased amounts of screen time can be associated with anxiety, depression, and leads to social isolation which in turn leads to lower self-esteem.

I’m not a therapist, but aren’t these all ingredients for mental health issues? What if we increased our ability to be present and strengthen our bonds with family and friends off of social media. Maybe we’d see a decline in mass shootings and suicides.

Social Media, Be Present this Holiday Season, Lisa Orchard
Photo credit: Sean MacEntee on VisualHunt.com

So, let’s make sure we’re present this holiday season and strengthen those bonds with our loved ones. Maybe start some new family traditions or hold up some old ones. My family has started a new tradition of playing cards during our time together, and while we’re playing, we reminisce and laugh about our antics growing up. It’s a great way to foster that connection we all need.

How about you? How do you strengthen your family connections? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!