Thursday, February 28, 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)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sue Scheff: Coping with High School Bullies by Connect with Kids

A Violent Age

Have your children ever been the victims of high school bullies? In spite of anti-violence messages and bullying videos, do you suspect your own kids may have hurt or threatened someone else? In either case, they wouldn’t be alone.
Youth violence is on the rise, touching nearly every teenager in America:

80 percent of teens say they have faced high school bullies
One in three has been in a physical fight during the last year
Among teens, murder is the second-leading cause of death
Bullying Videos Can Help Stop the Violence

Experts say talking with your kids and helping them understand their feelings of anger, hurt or fear goes a long way to helping both the victims and the perpetrators of teen violence. Watching bullying videos like A Violent Age together will get that conversation started and help you both know what to say and how to listen.

Your kids will relate to the teens in this program who talk about how high school bullies affected their lives. You’ll also hear from the Hessler family, whose daughter hung out with a rough crowd and was killed during a robbery.

Bullying videos alone won’t solve the problem, but A Violent Age is a great way to take the first step. Order your copy today and get advice from experts on how to keep kids safe from high school bullies and how to get help for children who struggle from the anger, pain, fear and humiliation that goes with teen violence.


Connect with Kids is a wealth of information for parents. I refer parents to them daily and I am always impressed with their valuable new weekly parenting articles and DVD’s. In today’s world of teenagers - parents need to be a step ahead!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts: Teenage Drinking and Driving


It’s hard to get teens to really listen when adults talk to them about the dangers of drinking and driving. Your kids will listen to Shattered. The program features true stories from real teens whose lives were drastically changed as a result of drunk driving.

Watch and learn together, and suddenly the pressure is off your own children as they relate to the kids onscreen. You won't be talking at your children... you'll be talking with them.

“I didn't think I’d ever be one of these people, you know, that drinks and drives and hurts people, but I am.” – Jayme Webb, her story, in Shattered

Shattered is a no-sugar-coated, heart-wrenching program, with facts and tips from experts to help parents and teens avoid the risks of drinking and driving.

“As teenagers, we always think we are invincible and nothing bad is ever going to happen to us,” says Whitney, 16. But bad things do happen. Nearly 3,000 teenagers die each year due to alcohol-related car accidents. It is the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds.

Comes with a free Family Viewing Guide with myth-busters about alcohol’s effects, sobering up, peer pressure, and resources to help you create a driving contract you’re your teens.


Do you have a struggling teen? At risk teens? Defiant Teen? Teen Depression? Problem Teen? Difficult Teen? Teen Rage? Teen Anger? Teen Drug Use? Teen Gangs? Teen Runaways? Bipolar? ADD/ADHD? Disrespectful Teen? Out of Control Teen? Peer Pressure?

Find about more about Boarding Schools, Military Schools, Christian Boarding Schools, Residential Treatment Centers, and Therapeutic Boarding Schools.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sue Scheff: The Secret Life of Kids: What Your Kids Are Doing Shouldn’t Be a Mystery

Who’s pressuring your kids? Who’s offering them alcohol or drugs? Who’s talking to them on the Internet? Whether we’re teachers, parents, counselors…sometimes we just don’t know what’s really going on in a child’s life. If you want to talk to your kids about the challenges they face, but aren’t sure what to say, our programs will help…with real kids sharing their true stories, and advice from experts, educators and parents who have “been there.”

Click here for a fantastic educational resource to help you help your kids!

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.