Tag Archives: teens

Empathy and How to Cultivate It: My notes from listening to Michele Borba

Michele Borba was one of the keynote speakers at a conference I attended this week. She is passionate, dynamic, and empowering. If you ever have the chance to hear her speak, do it!

Anyway, so much info so I’m just going to make a list of highlights that I wrote down, and hopefully you are able to glean some key information from it. Any statistics or definitions came from her presentation and can be found in her book or on her website. She talked so fast, it was tough to note sources. My thoughts will be added in italics.

  • 1 in 5 teens will have a mental health disorder wow!
  • “Unless parents realize it (empathy) can be cultivated, it will become dormant” parents, guardians, caregivers…and it can be cultivated at ANY age
  • Around the year 2000, empathy decreased 40%. Lack of empathy creates exclusion and polarization which is what we are already seeing in society, and if you think it’s no coincidence that this coincided with the smart phone and screens everywhere, you’re not alone
  • The average middle school kid is more comfortable texting than talking to another person
  • Some easy and specific suggestions and her list of habits to use: face to face contact, read picture books to your kids that have a moral dilemma, weave in the 9 essential empathy habits listed here:for more detailed information, I encourage you to buy her book Unselfie
  • “Empathy is transformational. Empathy is a teaching tool” it doesn’t cost a dime and can change the culture of the classroom
  • 66% of kids say we (adults) are too plugged in.
  • A person learns new skills best by doing it, seeing it modeled, not by telling it.
  • “You change the culture with the trickle down effect” she told a powerful story about a teen who changed the culture at his school just by holding the door open in the morning and greeting everyone
  • “Look for the Helpers” Fred Rogers. She says a statement like this, “Galvanizes the good. Share the good with kids everyday.”
  • “What would’ve made the difference?” She responds by sharing lyrics to the Cheers tv show theme song and what happened next was moving beyond words

In closing, you can make a difference.

More to come from the workshop she did following this presentation!

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Start the Conversation Early

 

 When thinking about your two, three or four year old, I bet the last thing on your mind is talking to them about drug and alcohol use.  I’ve just blown you away, right?   Here’s the thing: if you talk to them in response to their questions or comments about it, it means more to them than a lecture 12 years later.  

I’m not saying to sit your two year old down for a substance talk-that wouldn’t be age appropriate and certainly not effective.  However, when you hear a toddler, a very verbal two year old, say, “I have cigarettes from the store,” you are presented with an opportunity.  This happened with my program kiddos the other day while engaging in dramatic play.  I didn’t want to give it too much attention and/or judgement so I was thoughtful in my provocation. I simply asked her to tell me about them.  She talked about the smoke, and came around to coughing.  I asked if cigarettes were okay for her to have: “I’m not a grown up yet, I’m still growing so I can’t have them.” 

Seems like the conversation has begun at her house.  As a mom of a ten year old son and the granddaughter, niece and daughter of family members with substance problems, I think it’s important to talk with kids early about things like drinking and driving.  For me, teaching my son about responsible consumption is as important as teaching him how to tie his shoe or zip his coat.  If these values are ingrained early, he will be better equipped to make decisions as an adolescent and adult.

Yesterday evening, while out for a bike ride with his wife, a man I’ve known for many years was killed after being struck by a drunk driver.  He left behind two children and his wife.  He was a valued colleague to many and he was committed to making the community a better place.

I wonder if that drivers family ever talked to him about drinking and driving?  Maybe they did, and he still wasn’t responsible with his choice.  But maybe they never got around to it…

Please feel free to provide feedback…

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