Modeling for Caring and Empathy

All year YHC will be addressing the topic of bullying.  One of the key elements for helping children, families, school and communities is to build on the power of caring and empathy and the emotional climate in the classroom and school.  Dr. Robert Brooks is nationally recognized for his work on resilience, self-esteem, motivation and family relationships.  In a recent publication he summarized the importance of  giving students the opportunity to help others and how it fortifies empathy, compassion and resilience and draws directly from a piece written by Maia Szalavitz entitled “How Not To Raise A Bully:  The Early Roots of Empathy”.  In it she states that the ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes is key to all interaction and morality.  One suggestion is to consider turning on the empathy and compassion switch.  There are schools across the country working on doing this.  Lecturing is not the best process for developing empathy but rather we should look at the impact when adults role model and demonstrate caring and empathy.  By providing opportunities for expression of kindness, compassion and understanding for our students through activities and first hand experiences we replace lecture with real life.

I agree with the belief that most children have a desire to help others and that we can encourage and reinforce that quality best by serving as positive role models demonstrating empathy, compassion, understanding.  Working together as a community coalition dedicated to doing so allows us to harness our collective power to make a difference in the lives of children today.