Building Empathy in Our Children

Why building empathy within your children will help them develop a more open outlook and discourage stigma?

Today is the last day of the Mental Health Awareness Week, and it is our honour to have Help Them Grow with us to talk about building empathy in our children that will help them develop a more open outlook and discourage stigma.

Help Them Grow-Logo
Credit: Help Them Grow

Instilling empathy in children from a young age is a process that takes time and effort, but the open-mindedness it creates is something that will last a lifetime.

You may be thinking, ‘Okay, but what exactly is empathy?’ Empathy is the ability for individuals to imagine themselves in the position of others’ and have an idea of what they’re thinking and feeling. What makes empathy so important is that it cultivates the potential for children to be helpful, caring and responsive towards other people as well as the world around them.

According to this article, kindness has further reaching consequences than expected. In fact, research has found that it positively influences one’s health, self-esteem and overall sense of wellbeing.

Developing a strong sense of empathy can also be beneficial in other aspects of life; interpersonal relationships may be more rewarding, a more successful career may result from a greater understanding of others’ needs and wants, and a stronger presence within the community can provide one with more opportunities to build and strengthen connections.

However, one of the most important obstacles that highly empathetic children will be able to overcome is the stigmatisation and discrimination of mental illness. Stigmatisation, as explained here arises when individuals with mental illnesses are perceived negatively, viewed as being inferior, or have stereotypes attached to them. Subsequently, people with mental illnesses may be excluded from activities, subjected to abuse, and be discriminated against. This kind of treatment can lead to the development of low self-esteem and depression amongst other negative consequences.

Empathetic individuals will be able to understand that those with mental illnesses feel hurt and alienated by discrimination. They will also be more likely to speak out against unfair treatment and ignorance of mental illness which leads to stigmatisation, providing support for individuals who may strongly lack some. All individuals are a valuable part of the community, and it is only through recognition and being treated respectfully that they can contribute to their greatest extent.

As such, it’s very important to build empathy in your children. Here’s how:

  • Lead by example

Children tend to model the behaviour of their parents and believe that they are following the ‘correct’ thing to do. Set a good example by helping out others and ensuring that your children are able to view you doing this.

  • Allow them to engage with literature and television

Have conversations about the characters in books, television shows and in movies. Ask questions about their motives, their personalities and their decisions to encourage your children to think critically about possible underlying meanings. This encourages them to try and fill the shoes of many different characters and justify the actions they have taken.

  • Surround them with a multicultural crowd

Surrounding your children with people who come from different backgrounds familiarises them with the idea of commonality despite differences. This is important because they will understand that different appearances do not warrant different treatment.

  • Get them involved in the community

Even having small roles helping out in some way – e.g. once a week volunteering – enables children to be out and about and meeting different people. They will be required to communicate and spend time with others and develop empathy if they wish to truly get along with others and really make a difference.

 

A child’s future starts with their parents.

with love,

Help Them Grow


P.s We appreciate the great insights from Help Them Grow! Be sure to visit their page for our contributing post on healthy communication between parents and child.

Every parent is the role model to their children, teach them to be empathy and build a community filled with love and kindness.

  • JQ
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Dyslexic Children in Social Situations

While many of us are already aware that Dyslexia makes reading, spelling and writing hard for children. It affects not only language-based tasks but also motor skills, as well as social skills. In today’s post, we are diving into the social and emotional aspect of our young dyslexics. We are also providing tips we could do to help them.

“Mum, why is it so hard to make friends?”

Some of the dyslexic children find it hard to make friends because they experience struggles in social situations. As parents, we have to pay extra attention to the emotions, and mental wellness of our children. Don’t let a small difficulty they might be facing right now becomes a chronic issue, and only take actions when your child shows signs of withdrawal and socially isolating themselves from peers.

 

Children playing together
Source

 

Why do dyslexic children find it hard to make friends?

They can’t think of the right word to use.
Processing lags of words make it hard for them to understand and recalling the right word to express their ideas and thoughts.

Especially when our modern texting habits involves abbreviations (e.g. LOL, ttyl, atm, idk etc.), which some of the dyslexic children might find it hard to comprehend and challenging to keep up the conversation in a group.

They don’t catch the joke and miss social cues
Dyslexic children might be slower in catching jokes or misreading intended message in the different social situations. Sometimes don’t pick up facial expressions, body languages of others or adhering to the “rules of social etiquette”.

  • For parents with dyslexic child,
    Communicate and build up your child’s vocabulary bank through everyday, effective conversations. Add some spice to it by teaching them some of the interesting commonly used abbreviation! Practice with them on the possible social situations they may encounter, create a setting for them to be familiar with some of the social cues and social etiquettes.

 

  • If you are a parent or anyone else who wants to make a difference in our dyslexia community,
    (Teach your children) Patience, and slow down the overall pace of conversation for dyslexics to speak their mind.

Learning about dyslexia would make it easier for us to understand why children with dyslexia act in a certain way. So if we can make a little adjustment that would help them cope better in a social situation, why not?

The constant feeling of rejection or embarrassment from being unable to blend in with peers can lead to anxiety or depression. Don’t let that happen to any child, a little effort from our end could harvest into something significant- a generation of happy and healthy individuals.

 

  • JQ

Stay tuned for our next blog post by our guest contributor Help Them Grow in conjunction of #MentalAwarenessWeek! X

Source:

  1. https://homeschoolingwithdyslexia.com/emotional-side-dyslexia/
  2. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-11-children-dyslexia-difficulties-social-skills.html
  3. https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/ways-dyslexia-reading-disability-can-affect-childs-social-life-self-esteem

Dyslexia Warrior #1

 

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I am a high school teacher, and I have been teaching for about ten years or so. As an educator, I have always believed that every student is a gem waiting for us to discover (their talent) and polish it into a shiny diamond.

This page has resonated well with me. I have seen many of my dyslexic students struggling, academically and emotionally. However, I am currently not specialised in special-needs education nor attended dyslexia-related courses but will jump at any future opportunity. I am here sharing because I want to convey the importance of early identification and early intervention for our young children with dyslexia.

These are some of the current efforts in school to support our dyslexic students,

1. Exemption of 2nd language (e.g. Chinese, Vietnamese or French), so students can better focus on mastering our first language, English.

2. Extra time is given during high stake assessment such as common tests and examinations, including practical and oral as well. Students will not be short-changed due to their learning challenges.

3. Increasing of allied educators in schools. They specialised in learning behaviour support, and they are trained with the skill sets to assist students who needed extra guidance, which helps to maximise the students’ learning experience.

4. Students to type his answer for subjects that require intense writing. In this case, the student will not be pulled back by the tedious process of trying to write, instead, could put his focus on expressing his ideas with typing and not getting his train of thoughts interrupted.

No doubt the above-mentioned helped our dyslexic student to perform better academically. It is crucial for early identification for educators to tailor-made and formulate learning strategies for the child and provide necessary support. It is crucial to lay a strong foundation for the child so that they won’t be struggling in school.

When they struggle, they become disinterested and disengaged from learning.

Thus, the earlier the identification, the earlier we can provide our support. The last thing we would want to see is our student struggle and let the sense of failure overtake them, making them disinterested and disengaged in learning.

Signing off,

Dyslexia Warrior Anonymous


If you’d like to be our next Dyslexia Warrior contributor, tell us your stories here. We can’t wait to hear from you!

 

1 in 5 Dyslexia. ​

1 in 5 children has dyslexia.

If it is not uncommon, then why is dyslexia still being laughed-off, brushed-off or ignored despite advocators and brave parents advocating and sharing about dyslexia?

This week is significant for passionate advocates, parents with dyslexic child and educators to use the opportunity and spread awareness of Dyslexia to their respective community. Today’s theme is Raising Dyslexia Awareness, and this is what My Child is No Shame does, we are playing a part in building a dyslexia-friendly society for all.

Many of you may ask: “What can I do? I’m not an educator, or My child’s not dyslexic, or maybe I’m not even a parent yet!”. Well, you are exactly the one we are looking for! Our campaign aims to reach beyond the dyslexia community, we need you to be part of us in building an inclusive, dyslexia-friendly society.

Here are some of our previous posts in case you missed it:

  • Do you know what Dyslexia is? Read more about it here
  • Understand that anyone can be dyslexic
  • Learn some simple tips we can do to make things easier for them in school or social/daily situation (we’ll talk about it in the following week).
  • Join us in our movement to advocate for our young dyslexics! #StopDYSLabel Challenge was one initiative to challenge individuals to experience how dyslexic children learn, in a creative way. 

Our challenge ended on 3rd Oct 2017, and we would like to take the chance to thank all our Dyslexia Warriors who have supported the challenge. We are truly heartened to see the love and enthusiasm you guys have showered us with, and we thought the best way to show our gratitude is to showcase it on our blog!

Goh Ming Mei
@Goh Ming Mei

 

GF
@Gui Feng

 

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“They don’t need labels, they need support, they need people to believe in them that they too can succeed.”

 

Gunilla Danielsson
@Gunilla Danielsson

 

Jia Min G
@Jia Min G

Thank you xx

The challenge may be over and the annual Dyslexia Awareness Week is coming to an end, we all must remember that building of an inclusive society and helping young dyslexics to reach their potential happens not just today, but every day.

Let our platform be a start to something more!

  • JQ

🔊 Special thanks to Sydlexia for the support in our challenge!

 

Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017

We are feeling the positivity because tomorrow marks the start of Dyslexia Awareness Week (DAW) 2017!

The theme for this year’s DAW is Positive about Dyslexia and our twitter community are pretty hyped up for it so we picked a couple of our favourites to share with everyone. 💖

Continue reading “Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017”

Small Step, Big Change

Teachers play a significant role in our growing up life, and we are pretty sure everyone has crossed path with passionate educators who went an extra mile to ensure every child learns and made a difference in your life.

It doesn’t matter if you are a parent or an educator, equipping yourself with these following 5 simple strategies would help dyslexic kids learn better and transform their experience into a positive one.

#1: Be creatively colourful!
A simple gesture of dimming the screen slightly or changing the background to a non-white colour on smart boards would benefit dyslexic child significantly.

#2: How ’bout coloured paper!
Print your worksheets on coloured papers, and leave double space in between text with a larger font. Alternatively, try using the dyslexia-friendly font that makes reading easier for dyslexic children. Watch more about it here

#3: Engage scaffolds, mindmaps, and stories!
Scaffolds are teaching aids. Remember dyslexics are visual learners? Try engaging different mindmaps and stories etc. to find the best way the child learns.

#4: No one says it’s easy, but never give up!
Teach a child according to aptitude, no one can guarantee it to be a smooth journey. It will be a long road of trial and error, but never give up hope and keep trying. The bumpy road from experimenting the teaching strategies will grow your emotional and technical skills in handling students who learn differently.

#5: Nothing beats a word of encouragement!
Encourage your students with dyslexia and acknowledge their effort. You won’t believe how far your kind words could bring them.

Help younger dyslexics by starting small, because small steps can lead to big change.

Stay tuned to our next post when we hear from a dedicated high school teacher who has taught extraordinary students with dyslexia who later bloom in their niche talent.

  • JQ

Sources:
https://www.educationtechnologysolutions.com.au/2015/02/10-achievable-strategies-to-tackle-dyslexia-in-your-classroom-and-school/

 

I’m a dyslexic mum to a dyslexic child.

We believe there is no better way to understand Dyslexia and the community than to hear it from Georgie, founder of Dyslexia support Australia.

Georgie, tell us more about yourself!

I am a qualified Youth & Disability support worker, living in regional Victoria, married with one adult child, who is also dyslexic. I am also a teacher; I became a teacher in a roundabout way and taught at TAFE for 10 years.


How was your learning experience when you were younger?

My learning years were pretty horrid. I struggled throughout my school years, and teachers often made me feel pretty stupid. Despite being able to write quite well, I couldn’t read, I didn’t learn to read until I was 14 years of age. And it was a teacher at high school who was determined that myself and a few other students would not get through the year without learning to read. It was this teacher that got me into reading, I love books, and have thousands of books since learning to read.


Have you been labelled negatively for your learning difference?

Sadly yes, despite not having diagnosed with dyslexia until I was 30. I was told by a couple of teachers that I was stupid, and one went as far to say I was ‘retarded’. My fellow students were not much better, so my school years were pretty horrible.


Have your life changed after being diagnosed to be dyslexic?

Oh gosh yes, learning why I had so many issues at school was kind of a catalysis to my going back to school, to prove to myself rather than anyone else that I was not stupid. I did my VCE (at a regular high school) then on to TAFE gaining my certificate Youth services. I then went on to gain a number of qualifications in Disabilities, Training Assessor & eLearning and a number of others, I am currently considering do another.


Share with us a (good or bad) experience you encountered as a mother to a dyslexic child.

I was determined that my daughter would not be like me, and would learn to read from an early age, which she did. Her reading comprehension was amazing, as well as her verbal skills. However, her handwriting and spelling were atrocious, and I just couldn’t work out why.

She also had issues with not being able to sit still or focus for long, I started to wonder if she had some sort of behavioural issue. Her teachers were telling me she was doing ok when I asked, but her reports showed otherwise. When she was in grade 3, her teacher said to me in front of a friend that “Your daughter needs a bomb lit under her”, I was floored, what did she mean?

So we went to our family doctor for help, who then organized for my daughter to see an Educational Psychologist, who later diagnosed her with ADHD, ODD, and also possibly dyslexia.

I did suspect my child to have dyslexia and had already organized for an assessment to be done in Melbourne. It wasn’t surprising when the EP suggested dyslexia, but the ADHD and ODD threw me.

When the Dyslexia assessment came in, she was indeed dyslexic, and it turned out I was too.

Schools was a little tricky as the teachers were not well read on the knowledge of Dyslexia as a learning difference, let alone managing students with dyslexia. It was a huge learning curve for my daughter and I, having to find the [limited] available learning strategies for her. Even so, I used what I found was useful, and asked the school to implement these to better aid her learning process. Her primary school teacher was very good and she couldn’t believe the difference in her.

When she moved to high school, I prepared and gave the teachers information about how dyslexia affects my daughter and how they could support her in the classroom, alongside with me. Most of the teachers were on board, but sadly, a few were very resistant to doing as I requested.

However, my daughter did thrive with those teachers who went out of their way to support her.


One thing that you hope people will know about Dyslexia?

We are NOT stupid, we DON’T read & write things backwards or upside down. When given the opportunity we can thrive beyond our own expectations.


 

We thank Georgie for her time and effort to share her story with us.

We channel awareness and encourage, empowering more dyslexic individuals to stand up and tell us their stories! If you’d like to share your experience as/with a dyslexic, drop us a love note here.

One last thing, don’t miss out our #StopDYSLabel Challenge 💕

  • JQ