How do you teach a toddler empathy, mindfulness and the power of visualization?
I am still trying to figure it out since it’s not always easy to model this type of behavior. To begin with, so much of it is internal. I may be able to show them empathy through my actions towards them, but how do I show my kids that I am practicing mindfulness or visualizing? Also, I so often I wish my kids would do as I say and not as I do.
So, for now, aside from talking to them about these concepts when the moments are right, I have taken to reading books to them that illustrate them. The stories and the pictures in these books are interesting enough that my almost 3 year old wants to read them over and over again. Then, when we are presented with situations that call upon the need for empathy, mindfulness or believing, I refer back to the books. Here are my top three choices:
1. Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy by Bob Sornson
My toddler loves this book. He asks to read it over and over again. He has surprised me a couple of times by asking me “is this empathy, mommy?” It happened once after he helped his sister when she was struggling and another time when he felt concerned about a teacher who had been sick.
I like how this book gives many different examples of the ways others might be having a hard time and needing compassion.
2. No Excuses!: How What You Say Can Get In Your Way by Wayne Dyer
I love this story! I find myself rooting for the main character from the very beginning. It’s a very valuable read even for adults as Dyer illustrates the difference between excuses and others’ opinions. He also shows how to get rid of limiting excuses by staring at them square in the face and asking: why am I making excuses, where did the excuses come from, are they true, and how can I get rid of them?
“To make or not make excuses is a choice you have every day” is exactly the message I want my children to absorb from this young age!
3. Silence by Lemniscates
This one is my favorite. The book is genius because to me mindfulness is one of the hardest concepts to explain, yet the words and illustrations in this book have such a grounding effect that even I find myself listening, observing and being more mindful. I find it very relaxing and truly enjoy reading this one to the kids before bed. My toddler loves it, too!