Think About It: Empathy Starts Here - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

June 30, 2016

Think About It: Empathy Starts Here

What's the biggest thing a kid needs to learn during the formative years? Well, talk to 10 psychologists, counsellors, or sociologists, and you might get 10 different opinions. Recently I read a short blurb from one educational psychologist who very strongly suggested that empathy is the most important trait for kids to learn to help ensure their relative happiness and success years later.

Dr. Michele Borba wrote a book called "UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World". The title alone suggest which road we seem to be going down with technology giving us easy access to instant information, a modicum of self-gratification, and an ease with which to say "look at what I'm doing", because we all really need to know 24/7. Borba suggests that kids today, thanks in part to technological advances, are more self-absorbed than ever, with narcissism rates up 58% in college students vs. 30-years ago. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cheating, bullying, and unhappiness levels are also up among our youth. One bad picture or statement on-line could peg you forever, in theory. That's a lot tougher than the old word-of-mouth network.

So maybe teaching kindness, awareness of other's needs, and volunteerism will go a long way in your keiki's development. Maybe celebrating helping others more than rigid practice schedules will reap the longer term desired results. As Borba says "when's the last time you saw a bumper sticker that said ‘Proud Parent of a Kind Kid'"? And isn't that what aloha spirit is all about? Making a difference, being kind, humble, and aware. Now to promote these seemingly simple values, the adults must put down their addictive devices, too, of course. Think about it…

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