(Dewar 2009)

Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.

"Teaching empathy? This might sound strange if you think of empathy as a talent--something we either have or lack. But research also suggests that empathy is a complex phenomenon involving several component skills:

Teaching empathy tip 

  • #1: Address your child’s own needs, and teach him how to “bounce back" from distress...
  •  #2: Be a “mind-minded" parent...
  • #3: Seize everyday opportunities to model—and induce—sympathetic feelings for other people...
  • #4: Help kids discover what they have in common with other people...
  • #5: Teach kids about the hot-cold empathy gap...
  • #6: Help kids explore other roles and perspectives...
  • #7: Show kids how to “make a face" while they try to imagine how someone else feels...
  • #8: Help kids develop a sense of morality that depends on internal self-control, not on rewards or punishments...
  • #9: Teach (older) kids about mechanisms of moral disengagement.
  • #10: Inspire good feelings (and boost oxytocin levels) through pleasant social interactions and physical affection...."


References

Barnett MA. 1987. Empathy and related responses in children. In N Eisenberg and J Strayer (eds): Empathy and its development. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Decety J and Jackson PL. 2004. The functional architecture of human empathy. Behavioral and cognitive neuroscience reviews 3(2):71-100.

Dunn J, Brown J, Slomkowski C, Tesla, C and Youngblade L. 1991. Young children’s understanding of the other people’s feelings and beliefs: Individual differences and their antecedents. Child Development 62: 1352-1366.

Gavazzi IG and Ornaghi V. 2011. Emotional state talk and emotion understanding: a training study with preschool children. J Child Lang. 38(5):1124-39.

Hoffman ML and Saltzein HD. 1967. Parental discipline and the child’s moral development. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 5: 45-57.

Kestenbaum R, Farber EA and Sroufe LA 1989. Individual differences in empathy among preschoolers: Relation to attachment history. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development 44: 51–6.

Kidd DC and Castano E. 2013. Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind. Science. 342(6156):377-80.

LeBlanc LA, Coates AM, Daneshvar S, Charlop-Christe MJ, Morris C and Lancaster BM. 2003. Using video modeling and reinforcement to teach perspective-taking skills to children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 36:253-257.

Martin GB and Clark RD. 1987. Distress crying in neonates: Species and peer specificity. Developmental Psychology 18: 3-9.

Milgram S. 1963. Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67: 371-378.

Murphy LB. 1937. Social behavior and child personality: An exploratory study of some roots of sympathy. Columbia University Press.

Ornaghi V, Brockmeier J, Grazzani I. 2014. Enhancing social cognition by training children in emotion understanding: A primary school study.J Exp Child Psychol. 119:26-39.

Pizarro DA and Salovey P. 2002. Being and becoming a good person: The role of emotional intelligence in moral development and behavior. In J Aronson (ed): Improving Academic Achievement: Impact of psychological factors on education. San Diego: Academic Press.

Smith PK 1988. The cognitive demands of children's social interactions with peers. In RW Byrne and A Whiten (eds.), Social experience and the evolution of intellect in monkeys, apes, and humans. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Varkey P, Chutka DS, and Lesnick TG. 2006. The Aging Game: improving medical students' attitudes toward caring for the elderly. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 7(4):224-9.

Waters E, Wippman J, and Sroufe LA. 1979. Attachment, positive affect and competence in the peer group: Two studies in construct

Zahn-Waxler C, Hollenbeck B and Radke-Yarrow. 1984. The origins of empathy and altruism. In MW Fox and LD Mickley (eds): Advances in animal welfare science. Humane Society of the United States.




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