Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teaching Empathy in Schools - by Connect with Kids

“Students come out the other side not only with a better education in the subject areas, but they are better citizens.”

– Paul Weimer, director, Character Education Partnership

The No Child Left Behind federal act has many students spending the majority of their day reading, writing and practicing math. However, a new study finds that character education, anti-bullying efforts and lessons in respecting and empathizing with others can actually raise children’s test scores.

“Most of my lessons of character and respect … I learned at home from my mom and my dad,” says Maceo, 13.

But now some schools are teaching lessons about empathy, cooperation and caring about others.

“Okay, what is kindness?” asks a teacher to her student.

Researchers at the University of Illinois analyzed the findings of more than 200 studies. They found that when schools help kids learn to manage their emotions and practice empathy and caring, both their behavior and their grades improve.

“Students come out the other side not only with a better education in the subject areas, but they are better citizens,” says Paul Weimer, director, Character Education Partnership.

But some students say you don’t learn emotional skills with a lecture.

“If they just force us to sit here and understand, it’s going to be sort of hard,” says Susan, 13.

Instead, experts say character skills and emotional growth come with practice.

In one outreach program, high school students spend time with younger kids who need a little help.

“It’s a chance for kids to show that there is character there, ” says Mik, 17.

“What we’re hoping is by making this prevalent in our curriculum, by infusing it into the curriculum and mentioning these words again and again, that our students will hear this, internalize it and they will in turn do these things automatically,” says Nancy Zarovsky, teacher.

Experts say that while character education at school is always helpful, it is considerably less effective if the child’s family and community don’t teach or support those same values.

Tips for Parents

To teach these lessons, we must make the issues of care, connection and civic action part of the core curriculum and school culture. We must look thoughtfully at the ways young people see society operating and help them develop a larger sense of meaning for their lives. (AASA)

Whether we’re feeling empathy when a loved one endures pain, or feeling relief from pain due to a placebo, pain-sensitive regions of our brains are at work — either creating or diminishing the experience of human pain. (MSNBC)

“The ability to “tune in” and empathize with others is a prerequisite for understanding, attachment, bonding and love — all of which are important for our survival,” says Tania Singer, Department of Imaging Neuroscience at University College, London.

Social understanding and social responsibility build on children's desire to understand and feel effective in the social world, to maintain connection with others and to reach out to those in distress. (American Association of School Administrators, AASA)


Tania Singer, Department of Imaging Neuroscience at University College, London
American Association of School Administrators (AASA)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sue Scheff: Troubled Teenagers? How the Teenage Mind Works by Connect with Kids

The Teenage Brain

Are you dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of raising a teenager? Teens are impulsive, stubborn and moody. A troubled teenager will yell at you one minute and hug you the next.

What’s a parent to do?

Get The Teenage Brain and see the latest research to help you understand defiant teenagers and how their mind actually works. You’ll improve your parenting skills and learn how to influence troubled teenagers and how to better communicate with them.Find out what makes defiant teenagers tick.New research shows that there are clear-cut, physical differences between an adult’s brain and a teenager’s brain – differences that explain typical “teen behavior.”

The Teenage Brain is a compelling video program that gives families with troubled teenagers hope while providing the latest facts, tips from experts, advice from health practitioners, stories from teens themselves and much more.When it comes to teenagers, you can never have enough parenting skills.If you have teens, part of your job is to develop their mind. New research shows that you can actually shape the structure of your child’s brain – so shouldn’t you understand how troubled teenagers' or defiant teenagers' brains work? Now you



As a parent advocate (Sue Scheff) keeping parents informed about today’s teens and the issues they face today is imperative for parents, teachers and others to continue to learn about.

Connect with Kids, like Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, brings awareness to parents and other raising with and working with today’s kids.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Parents' Universal Resource Experts: Anxious Teens and Depressed Teens

Leave me alone!

We all know teenagers can be moody, impulsive and irritable – but how can parents tell if the tears will go away or if they’re a sign of something more? When your teen slams the door and shouts “Leave me alone!” – should you? Will your child be safe? Or are there signs of depression, anxiety, even suicidal thoughts?

Every parent needs to know the warning signs – when life feels too heavy or too scary for your son or daughter to handle alone. Every parent needs to know what treatments are available and what works with kids.

Every parent needs to watch Leave Me Alone!

You’ll hear actual teenagers talk about their struggles, giving you insight into what your own child may be feeling.

You’ll learn practical parenting advice from child experts about what you can do to help your teen face the fears and alleviate the pain. And you’ll hear the inspiration and hope of families whose children are living happier, healthier lives.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sue Scheff: Teenagers Cutting Themselves by Connect with Kids

The Enemy Inside

It's hard to understand teenagers cutting themselves, but kids do deliberately burn, scratch and cut themselves until they bleed. Even the kids involved with teenage cutting can’t tell you why it makes them feel better... at least for the moment.

They can tell you that it’s addictive and scary.“Cutting” is the most popular form of self-injury today, and it is on the rise among adolescents. Teenagers cutting themselves is a sign of emotional pain but it can also lead to major physical injury... and even death in some cases.

The addictive nature of this condition allows it to spin quickly out of control.How can you help prevent teenage cutting?The first step is communication, but talking about teenage cutting isn’t easy.

The Enemy Inside can help. Compelling true stories from kids who struggle with self-injury will help explain why kids do it, why they want to stop – and so often why they can’t. You’ll also hear expert advice for parents, teachers and counselors, on how to help prevent this kind of self-harm cutting and how to suggest healthier alternatives.

Order your copy of The Enemy Inside to learn what you need to know about teenagers cutting themselves and to see why Connect with Kids programs have been shown to improve youth behavior and increase communication between parents and children.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Teens and Vandalism by Sue Scheff

Teens and Vandalism

The US Department of Justice defines vandalism as “willful or malicious destruction, injury, disfigurement, or defacement of any public or private property.” Vandalism can encompass many different acts, including graffiti, public unrest, rioting, and other types of criminal mischief, like breaking windows or arson. Even seemingly harmless pranks like egging and toilet papering homes are considered vandalism in most states.

Unfortunately, many acts of vandalism may go unnoticed in the home, because teens can easily avoid bringing any evidence back with them. This is why it is of particular importance that parents make an effort to know where their teens are at all times. Keeping an open dialogue with your teen about his schedule and friends can help you to better keep tabs on him. A teen that knows his parents care is more likely to avoid criminally mischievous behaviors in the first place.

If you suspect your teen is engaging in vandalism, don’t be afraid to discuss your fears with your teen. While again, it is important to not be accusatory, you should leave no doubt in your teen’s mind that you believe any act of vandalism- big or small- is wrong. Often, teens think vandalism is a ‘victimless crime’; in other words, they don’t believe they’re hurting anyone by spray painting graffiti on a brick building, or tossing a few eggs at a neighbor’s car. This kind of thinking is your perfect segue into teaching your teen just how wrong vandalism can be. When your teen defiantly tells you that “nobody got hurt,” explain to them that by spray-painting the fa├žade of his high school, they costs the taxpayers (including you) money to have the graffiti covered and the crime investigated. Remind them that the money for these repairs has to come from somewhere, and that every dollar wasted to fix vandalism is a dollar that must now be cut from somewhere else.

Maybe the school will have one less dance, or will be forced to cut out arts programs or programs for under privileged students. If your teen has been egging homes, point out the waste of food that some families cannot even afford. Remind them that someone will have to scrape the dried egg off your neighbor’s windshield, possibly making him late for work, costing him time and money.

Read more about Criminal Mischief with Teens - Click Here.