Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World
“In today’s world, empathy equals success, and it’s what I call the Empathy Advantage that will give our children the edge they need to live meaningful, productive, and happy lives and thrive in a complex world.” – Michele Borba
Modern Parents want their kids to be successful, but at the same time, they want their kids to embody more than just academic success – they also want their kids to be good people on the inside too. Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and author of UnSelfie, spent decades researching moral development in many different cultures all over the world. She believes that she has found the answer to teaching our Modern Kids how to be academically, socially, and personally successful.
The answer is empathy.
Modern Parents are bombarded every day with news stories of today’s youth acting in ways that demonstrate a weak moral character – and we want our kids to be better than this. Most Modern Parents that I come into contact with want their kids to have a happy life that includes close family bonds, enriching social relationships, and a rewarding career – but somehow we are missing the mark.
Perhaps in our effort to help our kids feel good about themselves and to become comfortable pursuing their individuality, we accidentally de-emphasized the all important character trait of empathy. This book will not only convince you to add more of a focus on empathy in your parenting repertoire, but it also gives you practical exercises, tips, and tricks on how to do this on a daily basis.
WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT. I really resonated with the overall argument of this book which is that modern kids can have both a happy and successful life by having a good grasp of empathy. Michele Borba explains very thoroughly how the intersection of self
-esteem-focused parenting combined with new technology that gave us access to an online world in almost all of our hand-held devices created the “me-centered culture” of today.
In the book, Borba argues that this culture, “is all about self-promotion, personal branding, and self-interest at the exclusion of others’ feelings, needs and concerns…It’s permeating our culture and slowly eroding our children’s character.” Teaching our kids how to be empathetic gives them an edge in the Modern World because it sets up our kids to get along with almost everyone (even that hard to please boss), it allows our kids to handle delayed gratification, and it serves to increase overall happiness.
The good news is that empathy is a learned skill – it’s like a muscle that can get stronger through experience and practice. The extra good news is that Michele Borba lays out 9 steps with hands-on techniques for any parent or teacher to use immediately.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK. I’m a sucker for any book based on scientific studies, facts, and theories, so this book was a pleasure to read. I also liked the way Michele Borba balanced the science talk with down-to-earth, practical application of her message. For example, when explaining the importance of helping the child develop a moral identity, she also gives the reader 5 strategies to practice with the child.
I also liked the fact that this book was very thorough. Every chapter was packed with valuable information – she definitely didn’t use much “fluff” – which is something that I always appreciate.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK. While I highly recommend this book to my Modern Parent readers because I believe it contains great guidance that I think most of my readers would appreciate, just be advised that parts of the book can be very academic in writing style. This just means that if you don’t particularly like reading about related journal articles or studies, then you might want to skip over those parts and get right to the practical tips she discusses.
EXTRA CREDIT QUOTES AND NOTES.
Here are some quotes I found inspirational and/or thought-provoking from the book.
“While we may be producing smart, self-assured generation of young people, today’s kids are also the most self-centered, saddest, and stressed on record.”
“Empathy can be instilled, and it is composed of teachable habits that can be developed, practiced, and lived. Empathy is what lays the foundation for helping children live one essential truth: We are all human who share the same fears and concerns, and deserve to be treated with dignity.”
“The most effective strategies are meaningful experiences that touch kid’s hearts with a caring adult close by.”
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