The Pathway to Our Kids’ Well-being and Anecdote to Violence – A Must-Read Book
‘It’s impossible not to be changed on the inside after being at the Seeds of Peace Camp,’ a refugee from Somalia told me (writer, Michele Borba). ‘Once you see that other people have the same worries and fears, you start to feel with them, and everything inside you turns upside down. You never go back to the way you were before you came.’
Michele Borba begins her book by recounting a trip to a camp that recruited teenagers from war-torn areas and brought them to one central location to build their sense of connectedness to one another. She cites powerful research on the camp that showed that not only were the teenagers’ attitudes changed by the end of the camp with more caring, understanding thoughts and actions toward others but they retained that focus in their home communities one year later. Dr. Borba confirms, in the brand new book, UnSelfie, Why Empathetic Kids Succeed In Our All-About-Me World, that empathy not only equates to happy, healthy children but it also can prevent our most disturbing social ills including school shootings, bullying and wars. Empathy, she asserts, is a skill that can be learned by children and must be taught and encouraged by the adults who love them.
Dr. Borba makes a compelling case for why a focus on teaching our children empathy now is so crucial. She cites statistics that show that our kids’ empathy is down and our “Look at me!” self-centered focus is significantly on the rise encouraged by social media but not limited to it. And she cites an increase in peer cruelty and bullying, learned behaviors we know can be prevented. I was moved by her statement, “If you can imagine a victim’s pain, causing that suffering is a near impossible feat.”
So how do we go about teaching our children empathy in our already busy lives? Dr. Borba lays out nine research-based habits we can promote in our kids to give them as she terms it, the “Empathy Advantage” facing the thorniest judgments with their own thoughtfulness, care for others and ethics. These include emotional literacy, moral identity, perspective-taking, moral imagination, self-regulation, practicing kindness, collaboration, moral courage and altruistic leadership abilities. She draws from multiple scientific disciplines including neuroscience, child development and social psychology.
What I love about this book is that not only is it a call to action making a solid case for how a focus on empathy can transform our children’s happiness and success and simultaneously improve our communities and world but it also quickly turns to practical strategies with useful stories and examples to help us all figure out how to live it and promote it in our own lives. I came away filled with ideas to use with my family and with the parents and educators with whom I work.
Martin Luther King Jr. said in multiple speeches, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” This is a significant contribution toward that end. I highly recommend adding it to your summer reading list!
About the Author:
Educational Psychologist Michele Borba is an internationally-recognized motivational speaker, NBC contributor, and award-winning author of 22 books. She has spoken to parents and teachers on six continents and delivered keynotes to over one million participants including Harvard, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, USAFA, Common Ground, Character.org, Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson, Girl Scouts of America, Wall Mart, McDonalds, Santa Clara University and through a TED talk. She is a regular NBC contributor appearing 135 times on the Today show, featured on three Dateline specials as well as Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Dr. Drew, The View, NBC Nightly News, The Doctors, Fox News, The Early Show, CNN and others.
I am honored to call her a friend. Congratulations Michele on this important book!