API's Mission Statement

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"Our mission is to promote parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents. We believe these practices nurture and fulfill a child's need for trust, empathy, and affection, providing a lifelong foundation for healthy, enduring relationships."

Responding With Sensitivity

Highlights on Responding with Sensitivity

• In order to respond sensitively to our children we have to learn to practice empathy

• Empathy mitigates anger both ways, on the part of the parent and on the part of the child, giving both a “right” feeling, a feeling of being o.k., as opposed to a guilty or shameful feeling.

• People who feel right act right, but hurting people tend to be hurtful people.

• Behavior is practically always needs driven. When we are in need of some good we devote ourselves entirely to getting it. Almost all undesirable behavior is indicative of some unfulfilled, legitimate need.

• For good to come out, good has to go in. When our children are “full” of goodness—specifically, good feelings—that goodness tends to radiate from within them toward others around them.

• One way to begin practicing empathy is in three parts: first connect physically (eye contact, touch, getting down on the same level), then connect mentally/emotionally (mirroring/validation), and finally, connect spiritually (empathize) by expressing a deep understanding of what your child is experiencing.

• Boundaries help us distinguish between our problems and others’, our feelings and others'. When we begin to look at our relationships in terms of boundaries (not too loose and not too rigid) we can begin to grasp where we end and our children begin, which they, in turn, internalize, individuating and creating for themselves healthy boundaries for healthy relationships.

• In other words, when it’s not your problem, don’t try to solve it unless you’re asked to, just try to be supportive and work to come to this deep understanding of the other’s experience.

• Avoid sympathy, suggestions and stories (which focus on yourself). Suggestions and stories can be offered after resonance has been achieved through empathy.

• Teaching our children a vocabulary for their inner life (just like “hot” and “owie” and “yucky” are to their exterior life) will facilitate their overall health and well-being. When they have this vocabulary they are better able to recognize the need their feelings are signaling to them, really feel it, really experience it, work it through, use it to get their needs filled, and then let go of it.

Here are the hand-outs:

Responding With Sensitivity Principle Description Summary from API

Highlights on Responding With Sensitivity

Center For Non-Violent Communication Feelings/Needs Exercise

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk Cheat Sheet (for the fridge!)

List of Books and Articles for Further Reading