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Empathy For You

If we want you to teach empathy to young children, someone, somewhere has to be empathetic to your needs, too.

Nobody really wants to be like The Giving Tree in Shell Silverstein's book, because, if you remember it correctly, the Giving Tree gives and gives until finally she finally dies and no one ever gives anything back to her! That's just sad.

But, equally as sad is the fact that caring for the caregiver isn't something that seems to take priority. We live in a world were violence can be a part of daily life for too many people.

In the US, parking lot attendants make more money on average than child care providers.

Not that there's anything wrong with being a parking lot attendant. Cars are expensive and can be easily damaged. Parking lots provide safety and security. Their employees have an important job.

My question is this? Are our infants and toddlers as precious as our vehicles? Are they, too, easily damaged? If so, then why do we pay providers and teachers less than we pay those who care for our cars?

Until we figure out and change this, caregivers may be responsible to set the right example and care for themselves in the best interest of all.

When you care for yourself, others will care for you. Shakti Gawain

So, Take a tubby! Here's what I mean by that.

When I was much younger, I stayed with a family who where dynamic and sometimes intense communicators. Things wren's always calm and orderly in that household but they were always interesting and fun!

When it got to be too much for her to handle, the matriarch of the family would proclaim loudly "I'm gonna take a tubby!" Meaning I need about 20-30 minutes of alone time and I'm going to take a bath. I noticed she never asked permission for that time. She just claimed it and everyone left her alone. This is a great example of self-care in the real world.

We all need to take a metaphorical or a real-life "tubby" more often. If you care for young children we both know you deserve it. Sometimes it's not the young children that get to us but everyone else involved.

I know of a family child care provider who spent long days with children and set up an environment of fun for them to learn in. One thing she did daily in order to keep her sanity was get out the yellow placemat.

All the children knew that when Emily got out her yellow placemat, she needed time to herself to open the daily stack of mail. And they gave her that time. 15 minutes each day doesn't seem like much to ask for a break but in family child care it's sometimes really heard to get any.

Emily knew that in order to care for children respectfully all day long, she needed that small amount of time for herself. She guarded that time carefully, took it every day and set a really good example of self-care for the children that she cared for so well.

Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY!  (click on the word) She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.

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