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Parenting coach tells how to raise kind kids

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Parenting coach, speaker and licensed psychologist Toni Schutta of the Twin Cities presents “How to Raise a Kind-Hearted Child in a Selfie Culture” in the 2018 Life Living Speaker Series at the New Ulm Community Center Tuesday.

NEW ULM — A parenting coach and licensed psychologist with programs featured on national newscasts talked about how to raise a kind-hearted child in a selfie culture at the Life Living Series at the New Ulm Community Center Tuesday.

“Researchers report a 30 percent increase in narcissism and 40 percent lower empathy in incoming college freshmen at the University of San Diego,” Toni Schutta said.

She defined empathy as the critical emotional ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes to understand their feelings and situations. In addition, she said children may understand it as having sympathy for people when they experience misfortune.

“There is so much emphasis on creating elite athletes and students, but not inner qualities,” Schutta said. “How about kindness clubs? Be kind to another person for deeper relationships. Some people have trouble being close to someone. Inner qualities should be developed more, due to increasing mental health issues.”

She urged parents to fight the cultural tsunami of self-centered kids.

“People with higher emotional acceptance tend to do better at work,” Schutta said. “An empathetic person will probably be bullied less.”

She listed the seven skills needed to increase empathy and kindness: developing emotional intelligence, empathy skill builders, gratitude, volunteering, perspective taking, donating and the Kindness Ritual.

Schutta said social and emotional skills allow people to be sensitive to oneself and others. People with it are aware of and able to handle feeling expression and empathize and identify the feelings of others. She called it a learned response, rather than innate behavior.

She said emotion coach parents give guidance in the world of emotion, teach strategies to live with life’s ups and downs, don’t object to anger, fear and sadness; don’t ignore feelings, accept emotions as a fact of life, see emotions as opportunities to get closer, build bridges of loyalty and affection and ask children for problem solving ideas.

Schutta said the VIP method (validate, inventory and problem-solve) helps parents coach emotions. Validation can help children know they’ve been heard. Inventory identifies what happened and what choices have been made. Problem-solving can develop multiple options of what to do next.

She said volunteering reduces the likelihood of at-risk behavior and increases happiness and can develop life-long social activism. Examples include making a meal for someone in need, offering to do chores for friends and relatives, and starting a volunteer group.

Perspective-taking may be done by creating a feelings book.

The Kindness Ritual may include children and adults doing or saying two kind things to others each day and discussing it at evening dinner.

For more information, visit http://getparentinghelpnow.com/CoachingSession.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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