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Promote kindness for empathetic next gen

Moral education and empathy are the key to moulding youth to become global citizens, an expert said at the recently concluded Qudwa 2017 World Teachers' Forum.

Dr Michele Borba, educational psychologist, speaker and best selling author, who focuses on character, social-emotional development, bullying prevention and parenting, told Khaleej Times that it is the moral education that helps the child become "a better person".

Dr Borba, who has appeared on several television programmes, said parents need to strengthen children's empathy, resilience and break the cycle of bullying." It's crucial to teach empathy to children and why it matters as a 21st century global trait.

"We put all our emphasis on the test and 'what did you get' as opposed to 'what kind of person are you'. We are not prioritising kindness enough in our families."

However, empathy cannot be cultivated because children are hard-wired for it. "We have to prioritise empathy, by talking about kindness and caring, reading emotionally charged books and asking our children how they would feel in the other person's shoes."

According to her, parents must turn their children away from graphic images, which are numbing down their emotions as "it creates what is called compassion fatigue."

She said studies have revealed that empathy is plummeting by a 40 per cent in the last 30 years among teenagers worldwide, particularly in advanced countries with higher technologies. From 2000 onwards, empathy began to dip among youth across the world, while narcissism went up by 58 per cent.

"If you don't have emotional literacy, it's hard for you to feel with somebody and the longer our children are plugged in, the lower their emotional literacy scores are going - you don't face emotional literacy by facing a screen.

According to her, 85 per cent of children watch bullying when adults are not present. "Bullies love audience; parents need to teach kids to stay calm because bullies love a reaction."

She also advises parents to train their children to "look at the bully in the eye' while remaining calm.

Read more: https://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/abu-dhabi/promote-kindness-for-empathetic-next-gen