It is really important to me that I raise empathetic kids. From my standpoint, if my kids are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes, then there will be less fighting in our house. I’m all for anything that brings about peace. It has always been my parenting philosophy that rather than punish, it is far more effective to help kids understand the consequences of their decisions. If we help kids want to behave, then it just makes like easier for everyone. After reading Unselfie, I see how important empathy is, not just to make family life more enjoyable, but to help my kids lead all around better lives.
Title: Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World
Author: Michele Borba
Publication Year: 2016
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One of the points in this book that stuck out to me the most was the discussion of moral courage. I feel like for the most part, my kids are empathetic. Sometimes it takes some encouragement, but they are usually able to see things from someone else’s point of view. They might not always make good decisions, but they are well aware of the distinction between right and wrong.
However, I am not sure if I am currently raising them to be morally courageous. The book describes a study done where an adolescent is unknowingly put in a situation where actors are playing out a bullying scene. The vast majority of kids, do not step in. I don’t think my kids would necessarily step in. I’m very non-confrontational. I’m not even sure I would step in!
The book describes the rare girl who stood up for the person being bullied. Her dad was so sure she would intervene and he was right. He said in their family they specifically discussed the importance of speaking up against injustice. Since reading this book, I have made an effort to start these discussions with my kids. I want them to feel confident using their voice, even in situations where they might feel uncomfortable.
As a research scientist, I love all the science and data that went into writing this book. The concrete benefits of empathy are discussed in depth. We all want our kids to lead happy, successful, fulfilling lives. Fostering empathy is a way to give our kids a leg up at achieving their goals. Unfortunately, compared to previous generations, children today are significantly less empathetic. Thankfully, empathy is a skill that can be nurtured. The author fills the books with several concrete suggestions for raising empathetic kids.
I would definitely recommend this book to any parent. The world could use more kindness and understanding. If we all raise kids who are compassionate and thoughtful, just imagine how bright all their futures would be.