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Archive for November 2013


What Buddha knew about keeping ourselves happy

Keep your mind from ruminating on the past, it can lead to feeling depressed. And don’t let your mind get stuck in the future trying to fix things that haven’t yet happened, because that will cause anxiety. Buddha said it best: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

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Q&A: Teaching Empathy

Another Facebook fan asked: When my four-year-old son gets rattled, he lashes out with mean statements like, “You’re not my friend!” He doesn’t mean the things he says, but they are hurtful to his friends – esp. the sensitive ones. I guess the question is, how do you teach empathy to someone so young and what do you do to make sure it doesn’t evaporate when the child gets angry.

At four years old children will say very hurtful things when they are angry or tired or frustrated. Rather than think you need to teach them empathy at the moment, I recommend you see it from the angle of development. They’re clumsily using words, getting strong emotions sorted out, figuring out what happens when we they act too harshly. The real teaching happens automatically. The natural consequences do the real instruction. When a friend you’ve hurt no longer wants to play with you… or when you are so hurt by one’s meaness that you start looking elsewhere for new relationships… that’s when behaviors are likely to change. So talk about the consequences that actually happened with your child, versus trying to teach them with hypothetical examples. Also, you can pull back a bit when your child is harsh and disproportionately angry. Tell them you won’t look at them or talk with them for a bit, and after some time has passed, let them make it all better with a hug and kiss. It takes a long time, particularly for boys who aren’t as social at young ages, to make changes.

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Q&A: Dealing with Hitting

A Facebook Fan asked: My son who will turn 5 this month, has been hitting his younger sister (2 yrs) when he thinks we don’t see him and lie about it when confronted. He has never been aggressive or turbulent, on the contrary. However, he has always been a tease, loving to bug playfully his friends and camarades at school, his teachers last year and this year have complained about him not respecting his school comrades personal space. He is the youngest in his classroom and is smaller and lighter than his peers.  But lately, he’s been taking it on his sister, and not so lightly. I was wondering if it’s a jealousy phase, but it is not a behavior exclusive towards his sister. We’ve tried to reason, to understand, to question, to explain, we have sent him to his room, confiscated his favorite toys to no avail.

Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

Jealousy aside (which is normal), this is typical scapegoat behavior… and must be stopped in its tracks. I’m very happy to hear you’re sending him to his room (and confiscated his favorite toy) and keep that going (extending the stays if needed). Do this for as long as it takes. If he escalates, walk off and wait – and then put him in his room. Meanwhile, when you catch him being kind or nice or cooperative while in the company of his sister – jump all over that. Swoop him up in your arms and hug him and tell him he’s the best! That goes a long way in rewarding the better side of him… the sweet boy you know is in him, who is frustrated right now because he can’t be the center of things as he once was.

Please contact Dr. Rao about reproducing any material found on these pages.