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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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The Bully Epidemic

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Empathy Training

So, how do we combat bullying before it starts? How do we inculcate kindness and acceptance into five-year-olds? The key to kindness and acceptance is empathy. A lot of people argue that you cannot teach empathy. While I agree that it is difficult to teach empathy, I believe it is possible.

First, what is empathy? Empathy is made up of multiple components: an awareness of a “self” that is separate from other people; the ability to recognize another person’s perspective and the ability to regulate emotional responses.

 

I have compiled a list of several ideas in order to help your child “learn” empathy:

Support children in times of distress. When children feel that their own emotional needs are met, they are better able to recognize the emotional needs of others. Therefore, helping your children recover from their own emotional setbacks will help them have empathy for other people.

Talk to your kids. When parents talk to their children as if they have a mind of their own and treat their children as individuals, they encourage children to look at others as individuals with their own feelings and emotions.

Point out commonalities. Studies show that children are more likely to feel empathy for those who they feel are similar or familiar to them. Teach your children to find similarities with people – even if they are very different. Explain to them that everyone has certain things in common.

Role-play. Children can learn a lot from stepping into other people’s shoes for just a few moments. Help your children role play how they would feel if they were the person being bullied.  Even books and stories can help children understand other people’s perspectives.

Smile and give lots of hugs. Children are more likely to be generous and kind if they feel secure and loved. Therefore, smiling at your children as a way of signaling approval and giving lots of physical affection will help your child feel self-confident. Those who are self-confident are less likely to bully others (and more likely to be able to see the world through others’ eyes).

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


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7 Responses to “The Bully Epidemic”

  1. Miriam Arit says:

    Being a nurse we learned how to empathize with our patients…living with sufferings through illness make us so.

  2. YOU CAN NOT CHANGE THE DEVIL! LIKE IT WORSE THEN TO MAKE ME EAT SNAKE WHICH OTHER MAY LIKE!

  3. Stephen Boak says:

    Ive had my share of bullies, thing is you get the minority of them that change, an become better people, an the others that remain bullies, an choose to take up positions in high places of power, as you know it will always be in the back of your mind, moving from one bully to another. on top of that Growing up with a Disability, an the stigma that still happens with us, even in these days.

  4. Terrible thing! I share the view: it is possible to teach empathy. Good article.

  5. The bullies are certainly taking over .

  6. After our Mom or Dad spanked us for disobeying them, we sure were sorry we had disobeyed them and was sorry for all the hunger in China etc. It works and nothing is wrong with correction if really applied with LOVE and CARING parents.

  7. Run Guo says:

    Lock those bullies in jail for few days then it will stop. No punishment? no fear! This culture will never change, till messiahs comes.

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