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I got into the field of psychology because I wanted to help others, and this desire to help came from my ability to easily empathize. I never knew just how valuable empathy was as a parent until I started noticing the narration running through my mind as my daughter would cry, whine or scream.


I will be the first to admit that when I first became a parent I was not able to consistently use empathy. I was anxious and frustrated that I could not figure out how to help my very tearful (and reportedly colicky) baby during those first few months, and every time I thought I had the parenting routine down, developmental changes made me shift everything.

Fast-forward a couple of years—I noticed my daughter crying at bathtime and found myself saying in my head, “She really gets upset when water gets in her eyes. She’s really scared that shampoo will get in her eye.” I then wish I had bought curved rinse-cup that would fit up against her forehead. I also thought the tear-free shampoo wouldn’t bother the eyes until I decided to try it and noticed how annoying it felt, as my eyes were feeling like they were reducing to raisins.

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My point in saying all this is that empathy was the one of the keys to keeping myself calm.

I would reflect what she was expressing to me,“You really don’t like it when we wash your hair. You are worried that water and soap will get in your eyes,” but I knew that I still had to get her through it and continued to say, “We will try and make sure that water does not get in your eyes.”

How would this look if I were not coming from a place of empathy?

Well, for one, I may lose my cool because I may view her as an obstacle to getting her own hair clean thinking in my head, “Just let me clean your hair so that this can be done with!”

I may raise my voice and make it even more difficult for her to manage her feelings, as she may feel that she is unsafe to express her feelings with me or that her interests are not my priority. This pattern can continue for many months or possibly even years—with my frustration only increasing and her ability to see me as an understanding parent diminishing.

And no one wants that. So here’s how we can parent with more empathy:

1. Be aware

Notice what you are saying to yourself as your child begins to whine or cry. Are you finding yourself frustrated that your child is not listening? Do you keep nudging them to get through the difficulty by saying, “You’re okay.”

If this is you, know that you are not alone. In fact, we have likely all been here at some point. Instead of being really hard on ourselves for having been there, let’s just notice it.

Notice why it is difficult to tolerate the tears or frustration that your child is experiencing. Are you taking this as a reflection of you as a parent?

I will tell you right now that whining and crying does not mean that you are doing something wrong as a parent.

It is simply the current mode of expression while your young child is learning language and learning how to regulate himself in order to express themselves through words. Their brain is nowhere nearly as developed as yours, so it is important to shift the expectation you have for your child. Research now says that the brain is not fully developed until about age 25.

2. Take time for yourself

You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others—If your cup is empty, you have nothing else to give. Self-care does not necessarily mean manicures and massages.

For me self-care is waking up at 5 a.m. to exercise for 15 minutes, have my cup of tea, eat breakfast without distractions, and do a little bit of something I enjoy (like writing or reading). And yes on some days this is not realistic and sleeping in a little bit longer becomes my self-care.

What does it look like for you? Taking care of yourself can be those little things that actually make a big difference. For example, actually taking a lunch break at work and using part of the time to go for a walk or setting limits to how many events, birthdays and get togethers you commit to.

Overall, I notice that self-care really means slowing ourselves down and being intentional with our decisions. It’s so easy to move from one thing to the next never letting ourselves catch a break. So if nothing else, work on slowing down as a part of your self-care.

3. Put yourself in your child’s shoes

Empathy is going to be the key to getting out of your own head and into your child’s. You will not easily shift to an empathic point of view if you are not aware of your own perceptions and neglecting yourself. This is why I put it for step three.

Sometimes it is helpful to think back to when you were a child and recall what you needed when you were tearful or upset. Keep asking yourself, “What is my child trying to tell me right now? What does my child need from me right now?” This will help you get to an empathic understanding of your child rather than focusing on, “How can I get them to stop their crying/whining?”

4. Identify their emotions

Here you are going to help your child gain the words to express himself. For example, “It looks like you are upset because we have to leave the park. I know it can be hard to say ‘good-bye’ when we are having fun. We will be coming back to the park tomorrow.”

5. Stay calm

It is incredibly important to remain calm above all. If there is anything you forget, please DO NOT forget this one.

By staying calm you are showing your child that you are able to handle the situation.

Often times we have this idea in our heads that we are showing that we are in charge when we raise our voice or yell.

Helping our children be calm, starts by showing them how. If you want to help your child feel secure, you need to remain calm so that they know you feel like you can handle it. If you must, go ahead and fake it until you make it here.

Take a few minutes to get yourself in the right space before responding. And if you notice yourself being reactive, see my next step.

6. Take the time

Give yourself room to grow. These changes will definitely not happen overnight. You might find yourself forgetting to fill your cup, stressed by many things at once, and raising your voice at your child.

You will make mistakes. We all do.

The most important thing you can do when this happens is become aware of it and acknowledge your mistake to your child. For instance, “I was upset and yelled. It was not okay for me to yell. What I wanted to tell you is that I see that you are upset, but we still need to go. I am here to help you go back to the car.”

So much of this requires us to unlearn the things that we have been taught through our own families, friends, and through society. The more we practice this, the easier it will become.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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It's 5 pm. You just got home from a busy day at work, dinner is nowhere close to being started, and the afternoon shenanigans have taken ahold of your little ones. They need some time to decompress from their busy day and, let's be honest, you need a few moments to transition into the last part of yours, too.

Your child asks, "Mooooom? Can I watch a show?"

Cue parenting inner-dilemma.

You want to say yes, but you also have fears about technology. How much is too much? Is it bad for my children? Will it isolate my children from me?

Sara DeWitt, the vice president of PBS KIDS Digital, said in her TED Talk that this last question is a big concern for parents. We desperately want to be connected to our children, and for our children to be connected to the world.

Unfortunately, she says, the "fear and skepticism about these devices hold us back from their potential." The truth is, high-quality educational screen time can actually build connections (more on that in a minute). Even more exciting, did you know that the right screen time can help your child develop empathy?

Empathy is a skill, but as a society, we are losing it. A shocking study found that empathy drops by about 40% by the time kids get to college. In a world fraught with inequities, divisiveness and conflict, rebuilding empathy is paramount. Motherly mamas agree. In the 2019 State of Motherhood survey, you told us that your top priority was to nurture kindness with your children.

But how do we do this? Telling our child to "be a kind person" is great, but in order to truly understand, they need to see empathy in context. By using digital content as a prompt for communication and conversation, it becomes one of the many tools we have at our disposal to help guide our children on the path to becoming empathic, kind people.

Enter PBS KIDS.

Raun D. Melmed, MD, FAAP, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, and author of the Monster Diary series told us that, "our children have unprecedented access to wonderful educational opportunities through digital media. Interactive, nonjudgmental apps can enhance cognitive development (processing and organization, visual-spatial awareness, pattern recognition and even reading), social and emotional awareness, and even moral development."

When we control technology—and not the other way around—the potential is enormous.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that "media can have educational value for children starting at around 18 months of age, but it's critically important that this be high-quality programming, such as the content offered by Sesame Workshop and PBS."

Researchers looked at the impact of watching PBS KIDS' series, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and the results were pretty inspiring. Children who watched the show for 30 minutes each day for two weeks demonstrated improved empathy, the ability to recognize emotions and increased social confidence.

But, here's the catch: In order to experience this growth, children needed to have recurrent conversations about what they saw with their parents.

Nicole Dreiske, Executive Director of the International Children's Media Center and author of The Upside of Digital Devices: How to Make Your Child More Screen Smart encourages parents to utilize screen time "in the same way that they would use story time: to build trust, emotional intelligence, and empathy." By spending just 10 minutes discussing what happened in a show, children can experience significant benefits.

Knowing the science behind the benefits of screen time is great. But when that afternoon struggle hits, it can be hard to remember exactly what to do, so DeWitt encourages parents to make a plan—here's how.

How to make a screen time plan for your family

Ask yourself the following two questions:

1. What do I want my kids to get out of their digital media time?

Do you want them to have an opportunity to be creative and think outside the box? Pull up PBS KIDS ScratchJr. Is there something going on at home or in school that requires learning about sharing? Share the "Daniel Shares his Tigertastic Car" episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood with them.

Consider your goals, and then choose media accordingly.

2. What do I want my kids to get out of their digital media time? How can it support our family schedule and priorities?

It is okay to factor your needs into the equation, mama. Deriving benefit from your child's screen time is no need to feel guilty. Go ahead and start dinner, or send that email, or yes (gasp), put your feet up and relax for a bit.

Once you've figured out your 'why,' it's time to consider the 'how.'

1. Communicate the plan to your kids (and be clear about limits).

Kids do best with clear boundaries and expectations. This will be especially important if you are implementing changes to how screen time is done in your home.

You could say, "You can play the Wild Kratts game for 30 minutes while I work on dinner, and then we are going to go outside and flap our wings as bats do! Do you think we should eat mosquitos for dinner like they do?!"

Before you start the show, Dreiske recommends planting the communication seed: "Today we're going to notice what we're feeling and what the characters are feeling."

2. Discuss what your kid played or watched.

When screen time is over, strike up a conversation. Dreiske suggests open-ended questions that help to "[create] a special space in which your child feels safe enough emotionally to confide in you about their experiences. Let the child's emotion or feelings 'lead' the talk rather than being obscured by your feelings." You can try the following starters:

  • How did you feel when… ? Why?
  • How do you think that character felt?
  • What if that happened to one of your friends?

3. Find a balance of activities.

Like everything in life, screen time is best in moderation. It is important that children know that screen time is one of the many options they have for activities. Exercise, outdoor play, reading, coloring and more are also incredibly important.

If there is a show or game your child particularly loves, DeWitt suggests finding the non-screen time version of it. "For example, if the kids in Dinosaur Train start a nature collection, suggest a nature walk through your neighborhood after they've watched. If your child likes Ready Jet Go!, use the Ready Jet Go Space Explorer app to look at the stars together and then continue exploring the night sky away from the screen. In other words, we can make digital media as a jumping off point for family fun!"

Sara DeWitt writes, "It helps to remember digital media is simply a tool, just like books, toys and art supplies. As parents, we have the power to decide how and when to use these tools with our kids."

When used thoughtfully, and with love, high-quality screen time is an incredibly powerful way to foster empathy and kindness in the next generation.

This article is sponsored by PBS KIDS. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's been a hard week of hard news. It's tough to hear about what is happening to the detained immigrant children and feel helpless (but you're not—you can help, mama) and sometimes our brains just need a break.

We have been updating information on this situation all week long, and so we totally understood when Chrissy Teigen took to social media on Wednesday asking for a feed that would only let you see happy posts.

"I would use that today," Teigen wrote.

Don't worry Chrissy, we've got you covered. Here are seven adorable video posts from our archive to make Chrissy and all the other mamas happy today.

1. Viral video of dad helping daughter hula hoop

#dadgoals 😍

(via parents @mayaturnipseed + @djkingseed)

This video has been viewed so many times on our Facebook page because it is just that good. Watch this and try not to smile, we dare you.

There is nothing sweeter than a dad playing with his baby, and there is a ton of scientific evidence showing that when dads are involved like this father is, kids reap all kinds of developmental benefits and can even end up with higher self-esteem as they grow.

One of Motherly's Facebook commenter's said it best: "This is the best video ever. The bond between father and daughter is priceless ❤️"

2. Adorable video of little girl meeting Mickey Mouse

This little girl's reaction to meeting Mickey will make your day. 💕

Seriously, turn the audio up because this is the cutest thing. We all get a little star struck when we meet a celeb and this 2-year-old is no exception.

"Hi Mickey!" she shouts (over, and over).

She just couldn't get enough hugs from the famous mouse (honestly, we would be super excited, too) who was a really good sport and sang to his little fan, making her day (and ours).

The Magic Kingdom really is magic.

3. Viral video of a dad adoring his newborn daughter

She's definitely going to be a daddy's girl. 😍

This is going to melt your heart. If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: There is nothing sweeter than a man loving his child, and this proud dad obviously can't get enough of his baby girl.

"You're the best thing that ever happened to me," he coos at her, making her smile.

"You're my best friend," he tells her.

A study found when parents chat with their babies like this it can help infants recognize people, places and things.

Another study found that when parents use baby talk, babies may learn to talk faster.

This is a daddy-daughter duo that is going to be having a lot of these conversations for years to come. This baby is beautiful and so is their bond.

4. Hilarious video of babies that scoot, slide and army crawl

Check out these babies who are just figuring out how to get where they want to go, by any means possible.

Whether it's a scoot, a slide, or a crawl that's not quite a crawl, these babies are finding creative ways to get mobile.

"There is a big age range for when babies start to crawl (and some never do), so don't worry if yours has not started," notes Dr. Tovah Klein.

She continues: "Being mobile is very exciting—[your baby] can move on her own and that is an enormous shift for her. Soon she will be able to pull up to standing, which is thrilling as well. She has more control of her world and being upright gives her a new view of her world."

These moves in the video may not be true baby steps, but they are baby steps to baby steps, if you get what we mean.

5. Viral video shows NICU 'graduate' in cap and gown

After 160 days in the NICU, baby Cullen Potter was carried by his primary care nurse, Jewel Barbour, as he "graduated" from the NICU, in attire fitting of such a momentous milestone: A tiny cap and gown.

The little graduate, Cullen was born weighing three ounces shy of a pound.and was no bigger than a can of soda. Over the next five months, the Potters went back and back and forth from their home in Florida to the hospital in Mobile, Alabama to be with Cullen.

Getting to graduation day was a big achievement for Cullen, his thankful parents and the amazing medical team who took such good care of him.

"It was an overwhelming sense of joy. It didn't feel real. We were going to walk out with our baby after five long months. We can never say thank you enough to the nurses and doctors as staff at the hospital. They saved our baby," Cullen's mom, Molli Potter told Motherly last year.

6. Viral video of a baby in a dinosaur costume will make your day

BRB, ordering all of our babies Dino costumes for Halloween.

Did you know that your kid's dinosaur obsession is really good for them? This little baby could be crawling toward an obsession that will serve them well.

A 2007 study published in the journal Developmental Research, found about 1 in 3 young children will develop an "intense interest" at some point, and dinosaur obsessions rank really high in what they are interested in.

"It makes them feel powerful," paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara told CNN. "Their parent may be able to name three or four dinosaurs and the kid can name 20, and the kid seems like a real authority."

This baby can't say "dinosaur" yet, but they sure are a cute one.

7. Adorable video of dad pretending to have a conversation with his baby goes viral

Baby breaks the internet babbling to dad 😍

Motherly recently caught up with proud parents DJ Pryor + @Shanieke Pryor—about their adorable 19-month-old son Kingston who has warmed all our hearts. 💕

"I know every parent probably thinks this—but seeing his growth every day and how he interprets what he sees—it's thrilling to me," DJ told Motherly.

These two cuties went viral and then they booked a Denny's commercial! Talk about an adorable grand slam!

[Correction: A previous version stated that we had rounded up four viral videos, when in fact there were seven. We've corrected our error and regret to admit that we've never been good at math.]

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My oldest has been expressing herself with clothing, shoes, costumes, hats, jewelry, gloves and bows (lots of bows) for two years now, and I don't see it slowing down any time soon. She's five, but her love for styling herself independently began around age three. She loves colors and patterns and prints. (Especially when there are lots of different ones together in one outfit.) Mixing and matching and over-accessorizing is her love language.

She will come out of her room and declare herself ready to go—in the MOST creative concoctions I have ever seen. Truly. Lady Gaga's got nothin' on this 5-year-old fashionista.

There was the time she wore her green frog dance recital costume (including the hat and gloves) with a Christmas Rudolph sweater over it and mermaid leggings under it—to the grocery store.

There was the time she wore a furry unicorn onesie with heart-shaped sunglasses that looked like they came straight out of Elton John's closet and clip-on earrings—to music class.

And then there was the time—oh wait, it's most of the time—when she layers (there are always so many layers). Because, honey, a t-shirt and leggings are just the base layer! After that, you need to add jean shorts over the leggings, a dress over the t-shirt, a cardigan over the dress and you must always remember to pack a small carry-on size back of backup outfits anywhere you go.

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Then, and only then, will you be ready for the day.

This place we are now—where my kids dress (mostly) however they want—took some time to get to. I have not always been comfortable with the layering (is that tank top really necessary over that long-sleeved shirt?!) and the mixing of colors and patterns makes my inner-perfectionist want to shout, "THAT DOESN'T MATCH! NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT!"

But, over time, I've trained myself to say instead, "You look awesome! Nice outfit!" as long as it's weather appropriate.

Because, it's their body they're dressing—not mine.

It's their way of expressing themselves—not mine.

It affects their mood—it should not affect mine.

I don't have control over their bodies and choices, and I don't want that. I aim to be their guide, helping and assisting when necessary. I have let go of aiming for or wanting control.

If it's good for them. It's good for me. They are learning how to make their own choices, how to dress and get ready for the day independently, and it takes one thing off of my very long to-do list. It's a win-win for everyone, really. (Let's skip the topic of dealing with meltdowns over not being able to wear your swimsuit and flip flops when it's snowing out for another essay…😂)

So to the mother who has let their child dress themselves today—I FEEL you. I see you. I am you.

I see that your child also has 5+ bows in their hair and a layer of leggings, shorts and a skirt on.

I see that your child has a Spiderman costume on with a shark sweatshirt over it and a PJ Mask cape attached to the back.

And I see that your child has every color of the rainbow on, plus their shoes on the wrong feet.

My friend, I salute you.

I know that your kiddo dressed themselves and I want to give you both a big high five. I know this life well. And I know you too might wonder, What are people going to think with this outfit on? That I'm not teaching my kids to look presentable? That I don't care enough to tell them that their shoes are on the wrong feet?

I know that's not the case.

I know you're showing your child what having control over their own body looks like.

I know you're allowing them to feel free creatively in their expression of themselves.

I know you're helping to shape them into confident humans.

I know you're choosing your battles wisely.

And I know you told them that their feet may be more comfortable if they switched their shoes around, but they swear they like how it feels that way.

We've learned over the past few years from my kid's favorite movie soundtracks, Annie, that "you're never fully dressed without a smile"—but little did those lyricists know they should have added, "and also at least three layers of various items of clothing, three bows and three additional accessories of your choosing!" (That doesn't have quite the same ring to it though, now does it?)

Happy dressing! 😉

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If there's one day a year we can't wait for, it's Amazon Prime Day. We love a good deal (one of our editors *just* got through the dish soap she ordered last year!) and we prefer to do our shopping from the comforts of our home.

That's why we're even more excited about the news that just released—Prime Day 2019 will be two full days, starting on midnight (PT) Monday, July 15 through just before midnight on Tuesday, July 16. 🙌

Amazon announced that it'll feature more than one million deals, and some have already started. You can browse all of the Prime Day launches here. Amazon released these deal sneak peeks:



How to get the most of Prime Day 2019:

1. Check your membership

If you're not a Prime member yet, you can sign up here for a 30 day free membership to get in on the deals on Prime Day 2019! The annual shopping event is reserved for members so make sure you're logged into a Prime account to shop.

2. Browse Amazon products

While all of the deals aren't available, Amazon's products typically always go on sale so take a look ahead of time to know what you'd like to add to your list. We love the Echo Show for video calling grandparents, the Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet for indestructible devices for kids, and the Echo Dot for asking all of the questions.

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3. Track products + lightning deals

There are only a certain number of items that qualify for the deal and they can go fast. You can use the Amazon App to track upcoming deals and set it to notify you when that deal is about to begin. Sold out? See if there's a waitlist option—if an item becomes available, you'll be added to the line to be notified.

4. Make a list

It can be tempting to order all of the things because they seem like a good deal, but remember that deals happen throughout the year, too. To avoid having a million boxes showing up at your doorstep (guilty 🤷♀️) make a list of what you really need for the year. Think: Birthday presents, holiday shopping, household goods you always use, that item you'd love to treat yourself to, a stroller you desperately need. If it's on the list, don't hesitate to buy so you don't miss out.

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