Behind the Art: Sorry For The Loss Of Your Best Friend

October 31, 2019

A few years ago I received a request to turn one of my art prints into a sympathy card for the friend of a customer that had lost their cat. A little while later I thought I should create a card for the dog people of the world (myself included) for when they lose that furry little friend. 

Using my dog as a reference, I drew up a dog that had it's back to the owner (the original drawing was altered after my husband said it looked a lot like a certain body part). I felt inspired by the distant look it gives my dog like he's gone away to some other place in his mind and doesn't know what's going on behind him. It felt right for the loss of a dog.


Five Early Building Blocks to Encourage Empathy in Young Children

October 30, 2019

Empathy is an important way that we connect with others, but it is not something that can be learned as a new habit in 21 days. Empathy grows over time through multiple levels of development, and can begin as early as the first few years of life (0-5). The earlier we work on the building blocks of empathy with our children, the sooner they will be able to comprehend emotions and the way they function in society.

Encouraging empathy helps develop a greater understanding for future relationships (with friends and family, but also with the people in our neighbourhoods), and helps us learn our larger role in society as a whole. Everything that is taught in early childhood is to help make the next steps that much easier: children playing with blocks is a step towards math; understanding which way to hold a book is a step towards reading; learning about our emotions and the emotions of others is a step towards developing meaningful relationships in every aspect of life.

Here are five early building blocks to encourage empathy in young children that I use not only at work with preschool children, but also with my son:

1. Begin recognizing simple emotions from an early age. As soon as your baby beings to express excitement, frustration, sadness, and fear, start labeling them. If your baby looks like they are happy to see you say something like "Are you happy to see me?" and if something startles them say something like "Did that scare/startle you?" 

Being aware of feelings, knowing which feelings are which, and how to label them is an important building block for your child to be able to recognize their feelings as well as the feelings of others.

As your child gets older, you can start to introduce more complicated emotions, but in the beginning, it's easier to stick with four basic labels of happy, frustrated (not mad or angry), sad, and scared. 

Why not mad or angry? In most cases, anyone that seems angry or mad is usually upset by something that has frustrated them. There is nothing wrong with being mad or angry in any way, but the word "frustrated" is an all encompassing umbrella that fits any situation of upset better than mad or angry can.

2. Read books about different emotions. There are so many amazing books out there on the subject of emotion. If you aren't able to purchase books, there is a vast selection in your local library, and your librarian will be more than happy to help you find them.

A few of my personal favourites are I'm Happy Sad Today by Lori Britain and Matthew Rivera, The Way I Feel by Janan Cain, Have You Filled a Bucket Today by Carol McCloud and David Messing, and The Feelings Book by Todd Parr.

Books have a powerful way of teaching your children, especially when it comes to emotions. It is easier to connect with books and understand the emotions through the stories that are told, especially when they are silly.

3. Point out the emotions of characters in books and on television. While reading a book (any book...not necessarily a book about emotions) with your child, make a point to discuss what is happening in the story, specifically in relation to emotions. If one of the characters looks sad because someone took their ball away say something like "She looks really sad because someone took her ball away." 

As your child gets older, you could say "She looks really sad. I wonder why. What do you think?" to prompt a response from your child as to why they think the character looks sad. This approach is known as scaffolding, as you are supporting your child through their learning until they are able to complete a skill on their own.

You can also use these quiet moments to discuss how your child's body might feel when they are feeling specific emotions. What does your body feel like when you are frustrated? Sad? Happy? It is important for your child to know how emotion can change the way your body feels inside and outside. Good books about emotions will also go into some detail about the feelings inside your body as well.

4. Recognize the emotions that you are feeling and share them with your child. If you are frustrated, let them know by saying "I am frustrated about _____ ." If you are happy about something share what is making you happy: "I am so happy that we got to go outside today." You can even get your child to look at your face to see the expressions on it and how they change.

It is important for your child to understand that they are not alone when it comes to feeling emotion (especially frustration and sadness), and how they can recognize when people are feeling those emotions by looking at their faces or their bodies.

5. When your child behaves in a way towards someone else that you deem inappropriate, take the time to point out the emotions of the other person, as well as ask your child how they would feel if someone did the same thing to them. Building on to the scaffolding of the emotional education of your child, the next step is being able to recognize the emotions in the people that your child interacts with.

Because you have shown your child what emotions look like through the books you have read to them, as well as through sharing your own emotions, you child should be able to begin to recognize the emotions in others and how they might feel if they were in the same situation.

Get close to your child and ask them to look at the face of the other person, getting them to figure out what the person might be feeling by recognizing the emotion on their face. Then ask your child how they might be feeling if ____ happened to them. This simple moment is an important building block to encourage empathy in your child.


What We Love: Fall 2019

October 08, 2019

After spotting a beautiful blanket coat in an old issue of Vogue, I made it my mission to find a cozy blanket coat to use this autumn. While on a trip to Winners, I found this lovely gray wool wrap coat from BCBGMAXAZRIA that I knew was a steal of a deal for the quality (c'mon...the seams are protected by fabric), and now looking at the website it was more of a deal than I originally realised. Layered with a fleece jacket and paired with a scarf, this coat will take me through to winter with no problems!

This song from The East Pointers is so much fun and the video is absolutely beautiful. A good beat (as you know I enjoy) with fantastic lyrics and engaging visuals (I love that they have incorporated dance with ASL). 

This beautifully crafted market bag from the shop 26Lentils fits perfectly with my attempt to be more conscious of the items that I am using and throwing away in my life (plus she's local for me!). It's getting so much easier to be aware of how we are affecting the environment, and it's not hard to want to with items as lovely as this. Now I just have to remember my bags when I go to the grocery store.

Powered by Blogger.