We live in the age of the selfie—the ubiquitous symbol of narcissism.
But this focus on the self to the exclusion of others is harmful to our children, according to Michele Borba, author of the new book UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. More than the photos themselves, the idea behind them—that we are the center of our world—is the problem, reflecting a decreased focus on others and a lack of empathy.
According to Borba, low levels of empathy are rampant in our culture, and in kids that’s associated with bullying, cheating, weak moral reasoning, and mental health issues, like anxiety and depression. Her book is a call to parents, teachers, and other caring adults to help encourage children to develop empathy and generosity toward others, and it’s full of research-based tips on how to do so.
Some tips are focused on increasing emotional literacy in general, by helping kids to better understand their own emotions and the emotions of others. Others involve helping kids to foster a sense of themselves as caring people, by engaging them in activities where they can be generous and by modeling generosity toward others ourselves. Still others involve helping kids to become moral heroes, in school and out of it.
Below are some of Borba’s suggestions.
1. Help Kids Develop a Moral Identity
2. Give Kids “Do-Overs”
3. Encourage Empathy Through Stories
4. Support Empathy Education in School
5. Examine Your Values
6. Be Mindful of Social Media Use
7. Help Kids Find Their Inner Hero
While Borba is thorough in providing ideas for parents and teachers, the abundance of advice and the number of acronyms she uses sometimes make it difficult for a reader to know where to start. But it seems clear that if want the world to be a better place, we do need to nurture empathy and compassion in our kids.
Improving Social Skills in Children & Adolescents is a 4-hour online continuing education course that discusses the social skills children and adolescents will need to develop to be successful in school and beyond. It will demonstrate the challenges and difficulties that arise from a deficit of these crucial skills, as well as the benefits and advantages that can come about with well-developed social skills.This course will also provide practical tools that teachers and therapists can employ to guide children to overcome their difficulties in the social realm and gain social competence. While there are hundreds of important social skills for students to learn, we can organize them into skill areas to make it easier to identify and determine appropriate interventions. This course is divided into 10 chapters, each detailing various aspects of social skills that children, teens, and adults must master to have normative, healthy relationships with the people they encounter every day. This course provides tools and suggestions that, with practice and support, can assist them in managing their social skills deficits to function in society and nurture relationships with the peers and adults in their lives.
It has long been observed that there are certain children who experience better outcomes than others who are subjected to similar adversities, and a significant amount of literature has been devoted to the question of why this disparity exists. Research has largely focused on what has been termed “resilience.” Health professionals are treating an increasing number of children who have difficulty coping with 21st century everyday life. Issues that are hard to deal with include excessive pressure to succeed in school, bullying, divorce, or even abuse at home. This course provides a working definition of resilience and descriptions of the characteristics that may be associated with better outcomes for children who confront adversity in their lives. It also identifies particular groups of children – most notably those with developmental challenges and learning disabilities – who are most likely to benefit from resilience training. The bulk of the course – presented in two sections – offers a wide variety of resilience interventions that can be used in therapy, school, and home settings.
Children with difficult temperaments and those with developmental delays may have learned to express their dissatisfaction with challenging and defiant behavior like whining, anger, temper tantrums or bad language. They sometimes engage in negative behavior or “misbehave” because they do not have the necessary skills – communicative or otherwise – to make their needs known. The purpose of this course is to teach clinicians effective and practical strategies to manage challenging and defiant behavior in their young clients. The course will also focus on how clinicians can educate parents on how to manage difficult behavior and avoid power struggles at home. The dynamics and techniques described in this course are intended for use with typically functioning children and those with developmental or language delays. They are not generally adequate or even appropriate for children with serious behavior conditions like oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorders.
Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.