We’ve probably all heard the adage, “It’s not what you say—it’s how you say it.” Our body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions contribute as much to the message we’re trying to convey as the words themselves. Especially when we’re listening to our friends and family, tuning into those subtle hints allows us to communicate on a deeper level. Sensitivity means using our senses to perceive the true attitudes and emotions of others. For young children, this can be explained as caring about how others feel. Teaching children to tune into the subtle clues conveyed in conversation gives them a valuable tool that will aid them in all aspects of their lives.
The snowshoe rabbit depends on all of its senses to recognize danger. The rabbit’s pupils stay fully open to allow as much light as possible to
enter its eyes at all times. Rabbits also have binocular vision, meaning their eyes are on either side of their head instead of in front, providing a wider fi eld of view. The rabbit’s long ears detect faint noises. Its sense of smell alerts it to coyotes or other predators that may be in the area. The snowshoe rabbit uses all of its senses to keep track of the other animals in the forest and to survive.
I Will Statements
- I will listen to others fully.
- I will watch facial expressions.
- I will notice tone of voice.
- I will put myself in others’ shoes.
- I will show that I care.
Sharpening the senses leads to an increased awareness of our surroundings and can help us enjoy the world more. Try these fun sensory adventures with your family.
- Now you see it, now you don’t: put an assortment of items on a tray and let players look at them for about 30 seconds. Ask everyone to close their eyes while you remove one item. When the players look at the tray again, have them guess what is missing. For young children, use just a few familiar objects.
- What do you feel? Place a familiar item in a brown paper bag and let each player put his or her hand in to touch the item without looking at it. Try this with several objects your family sees all the time. They may be surprised at how using a different sense affects their ability to recognize things. These activities require minimal preparation and can be played several times using various objects. Try them the next time you hear the words, “I’m bored.” Be sure to take a turn yourself—playing with our children is a sweet reward to be savored. Let your kids clip out the “I will” statements and use them as a bookmark with a portable reminder of teachable moments regarding sensitivity.
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman explores the role emotions play in our lives. Being sensitive to our emotions and the emotions of those around us can help us lead healthier, more satisfying lives.
- The Weeping Willow by Patrick Jennings is a beginner chapter book about Ike and his little sister Mem. Ike and his friend Buzzy decide to build a tree house in a weeping willow tree. By the end of the book, all the characters have learned about being sensitive to each other’s feelings.
- In Arthur and the New Kid by Marc Brown, a new student comes to Arthur’s class. Accepting someone who is different takes sensitivity and understanding, but eventually the kids come around. This book is recommended for readers in grades 1-3, but is great to read aloud to younger children.