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An example of how I practice empathy with my kids

Jan 2, 2021

In the last post (which you can find in the recommended posts below), I wrote about how to show empathy to children, because I am convinced that empathy can (and should) be learned and therefore taught. But it is not an easy process and you don't stop learning it… you simply improve. After years of practice, in fact, today I still sometimes fall into the mechanisms of a traditional education, but I have become much better at recognising it and fixing it. To let you understand what I mean, I'll tell you a story.


It's morning, December 2020. After playing letters with the children for an hour, I finally sit down at the computer and leave them to tidy up the letters. Emily doesn't want to help, and Oliver comes to me complaining.

I want to work, I need space. In the last 15mins when I was playing with the kids, I was already thinking about work. Now I need mummy space. I get annoyed. The first words that come out of my mouth are: "Emily, it's not fair that you *never* help tidy up", and "*Next time* you won't play if you *always* make Oliver tidy up".

I bite my tongue. So many mistakes in these few words! These are the words of the traditional education (generaliziations, exaggerations and threats) that I have learned to avoid, because not only do they not educate long term, but they always make the situation worse: Emily is now lying on the carpet, crying.

Today, however, unlike years ago, I understand her. I know she is right. Of course such a sentence hurts her, she loves playing with Oliver and I'm telling her that she won't be able to do it anymore. I don't know when parents learned to hurt their children in order to gain obedience. In general, hurting people should never be a means to an end, and it's surely not what I want to teach my children.

Also, those words are intellectually dishonest, it's not true that Emily *never* tidies up, I said it out of frustration, out of an old habit. I said it as I say "pass me the salt", because it's always been a habit for me to hear this kind of sentences… we all tend to educate they way we were educated.

But when I became a mother, I decided to get off the wheel and I've been working hard to change that mentality ever since. Today, when I'm wrong, I recognise it right away because Oliver and Emily let me know – when children aren't used to being hurt, they are much more sensitive to injustice. With her crying, Emily is telling me that I was unfair. And she is right.

I take a deep breath, sit down next to her and say, “Come on, let's tidy up together. I also played, and it's right for me to tidy up with you”.

She stops crying, wipes her tears with her shirt, and joins me. I put a couple of letters away in the box, then I kiss the kids, and sit back at my computer, sure that Oliver and Emily will now be fine. Together, they put away all the other letters, and start playing another game.

It doesn't take much.

It takes very little.

It takes very little today.

Because all the years I've practiced empathy are finally paying off. Not just for my children's behavior, but especially for my behaviour – they go hand in hand. With each mistake, I learn a little more and fix it a little easier. Because being a parent doesn't just mean raising our children, it means raising ourselves alongside them.

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
An example of how I practice empathy with my kids
How I show empathy to my children
Happy 4th birthday, Emily
Montessori New Year's tradition
Montessori Peace table
Audiobooks of real-life stories for kids
10k on Instagram!
Terrible twos
The organs of the body: workshop for kids
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

Jan 15, 2021 • 20m
Come "montessorizzare" la casa per dare indipendenza ai bambini
In questo episodio di Educare con Calma parliamo di come offrire indipendenza in casa attraverso l'ambiente. Vi parlo dell'importanza dell'ambiente (anche nelle scuole Montessori), di quanto sia importante apportare piccoli cambiamenti in casa per dare più indipendenza ai bambini, e anche di come purtroppo questo non sia sufficiente… Questo tema è uno dei primi che avevo in mente di trattare sul podcast… meglio tardi che mai! 🌸 -- Come appoggiare il podcast: Io non faccio pubblicità e non acc...
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Jan 13, 2021 • 05m
Montessori in 5': Un metodo per smettere di criticare
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Jan 8, 2021 • 31m
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I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.