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One way to teach sensitivity is to talk with your child about it. If she is good at playing ball, ask her how she would feel if she were the last one chosen for the team. Ask who is the last person chosen at her preschool or in her kindergarten class and see if she knows why. You’re helping her understand how other children feel who aren’t as athletic as she is.
Another way is to tell her a story and ask questions. You might talk about Amy riding in the car pool who had a birthday party and is talking about all of the kids who had such a great time. Ask her how she thinks Mary Beth, who also is in the car, might feel hearing about the party when she hadn’t been invited.
You make up the scenes. Or read the newspaper and talk about the stories you read. Or watch what is happening around you. Ask her about the little girl whose mommy got angry with her in the store. See how she thinks the little girl might have felt. Listen to her response, don’t judge her response, pay attention to what she is saying and remember she is learning from your conversation how to be a sensitive human being.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and now director of Parenting Matters Foundation. The foundation publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 681-2250.