Hudson Valley Parent

HVP December 2016

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Page 26 of 43 n Hudson Valley Parent 27 of children's books that she uses to teach feelings, compassion and teamwork. In When Sophie Gets Angry, the class discusses why she's upset and what could be done to make her feel better. Posters, pup- pets, doll houses, and even action figures are put to work to illustrate caring scenarios. For older children, they use "scripting," "It's a practice script for what you can say and do with a friend in vari- ous situations," Brownsey says. Trapani-Barber, who is a mom of two, says she also teaches her chil- dren to express themselves and the importance of feeling for others. "[My 2-year-old son] shows em- pathy by kissing my boo-boo's. This exemplifies learned behavior," she says. "Mommy kisses boo-boo's and makes him feel better. His under- standing is that kissing my scratches, bumps and bruises will make me feel better, and they do." MJ Hanley-Goff is a mom of two daughters, and a freelance writer who lives in Chester. Empathy in action After the Sandy Hook Elemen- tary School shooting in 2012, an 11-year-old named Riley McNitt wanted to make a somehow difference. Hoping to make Christmas a little brighter for the fami- lies touched by the tragedy, he created Pocket Angelz, zipper pulls - originally designed for kids to carry in their pockets so they could feel safe at all times. For ages 4 and up, 16 different designs are available from $2.99 each at purchase.html. Children from the Millbrook Early Childhood Education Center focus on activities that focus on understanding another's viewpoint. Photo provided seeing the faces of others to see what happens to our eyes, eyebrows, cheeks and mouth when we emo- tion. When the staff hears phrases like, "Wow! You're really good at that!" or "Are you okay; can I help you?" then they know that a very real and gen- uine sense of community and caring has been built, Pitcam says. "It is just a wondrous journey helping children grow emotionally and grow together as a family of friends," she adds. Learning by doing Sandra Brownsey, program coor- dinator at the Center for Spectrum Services in Ellenville says teaching empathy and caring are very much a part of their program. The cen- ter, which works with children of varying degrees of autism, provide programs and activities to encourage the notion of caring. "We want our students to recog- nize the value of friends and talk about feelings," she says, adding that they begin with planned activities where two people complete a task, like pushing heavy lunch carts back to the kitchen, helping a peer unzip or zip a coat or pushing a friend on the swing. "It's where we start in the 'caring for others' process," she says. Books also play a part, Brownsey adds. The Center's counselor, Eliz- abeth Forte, has created a library "It is just a wondrous journey help- ing children grow emo- tionally and grow togeth- er as a family of friends." ALLISON PITCAIRN Co-director at Millbrook Early Childhood Education Center

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