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EP 258 BONUS Empathy -2021-04-09
[00:00:08] A bonus episode of The Virtual Couch, I am your host, as per usual, Tony Overbay, I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and I am going to try to make this one of the world’s quickest beginnings, because I have a two part bonus episode that I have combined into one where we are going to talk about empathy. No doubt it’s a it’s been a big buzzword over the past few years. Chances are you’ve wondered if your spouse or kids or maybe your boss or your extended family lack empathy altogether. Or are you the one you’re worried about? Have you have you had people say to you, I don’t feel like you’re very empathetic? And do you know what the difference is between empathy and sympathy? Because there’s a big difference. I’m telling you. Now, if that if you had any of those thoughts or questions, then you’ve come to the right place, because in in this two part episode, I’m looking at three components of empathy. What really breaks down the definition of empathy? And I’m going to cover 10 evidence based methods for teaching, modeling and nurturing empathy. So we’re going to do that and and plenty more coming up on the virtual couch. But I will I will promise to make this the quickest intro possible and just say that if you’ve been listening to the podcast the last few weeks, you’ll know that my magnetic marriage course is about to launch round two and the first round was just incredibly wonderful and powerful. So please head over to Tony Overbay, dotcom slash magnetic and sign out the sign out, sign up, sign up.

[00:01:31] Don’t sign out. And you’ll find out more about when the launch of the second round is because it’s coming up in a week or two. And I, of course, would always encourage anyone to head over to a virtual couch on Instagram or Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook, as well as check out My online community for helping people overcome turning to pornography as a coping mechanism is growing and growing. And one of the largest components of that is a Wednesday evening call Zoome call. That has just been incredible, especially over the last few weeks. And if you take the path back, course, you get access to this online community, the call. And if you’re interested in even just taking a peek, shoot me an email, go to Tony Overbay Dotcom and you can send me an email saying you’d like to find out more about even the group calls and and talk about group calls. I mentioned this on several podcasts, but I also have a community and online community for women that are dealing with are going through relationships, breakups, divorces, are involved in relationships with emotionally abusive men or maybe people that they feel that there is a component of narcissism in there. And if that is the case, email me as well and I can give you more information about that. All right, let’s get to it. Today’s two parts actually in one bonus episode on components of empathy and 10 evidence based methods for teaching, modeling and nurturing empathy.

[00:03:04] Come on in, take a seat.

[00:03:11] And I’ve got a two part episode today, and I promise that it will not go too long because I didn’t even print up the second half of my notes because I have so much good stuff to get to. If you already read in the title, we’re talking about empathy today and empathy. What is it? It is a buzzword, a hot topic in my work. I am asked time and time again in emails and sessions and honestly by people I meet who will listen to a podcast or two, or when someone finds out what I do for a living, they the topic is so hot right now that the the question is often can you teach empathy or how can my spouse or my child or my teen learn to be more empathetic? So let me just be bold. Whether I’m working with a teenager or an adult, I see this in all areas. It’s kind of this it’s phrasing about this. Can you just help them understand why I need them to do this thing or why I need them to change? And again, here’s a very bold, overarching, generalized statement. So I know that there are exceptions, but for the most part, parents, spouses, teachers, what I hear them all saying, in essence, is, can you help me tell that person, the person in my life, that they need to do what I say because they know better than them.

[00:04:17] So here’s the deal. You might you might not, in my humble opinion, maybe it’s somewhere in between, because the one thing that is lacking in true empathy or understanding, it is truly it’s understanding what’s going on in the mind of and the life of your spouse, your teen, your child. And until you have a better idea, until you can truly relate better to them. And it’s more than just kind of putting yourself in their shoes, which we’re going to get to today. But until you can truly relate to them, better understand where they’re coming from and why convincing them to do what you want them to do is going to be an uphill battle. And it’s not always the best thing. And you don’t even realize is that once you truly do understand where they’re coming from. And trust me, if you just said in your mind, OK, but I do know what they need to do because I already know where they’re coming from are you know what they’re going to say? You don’t whenever those assumptions are made. And I hear that’s one of the common themes, whether I’m doing couples work, whether I’m doing individual work. It’s just that, you know, I mean, I know he already knows that, you know, they’ll say that or so whenever you’re making an assumption and I won’t even go into the whole what happens if you’re making an assumption and assume and all that kind of stuff.

[00:05:18] But if you’re making an assumption, there is a lot of things there that you do not know. OK, so back to the days, I guess, and going to be a two parter. Didn’t even print the notes for the last thing I want to cover today, because I know it will be long, so I want to go into teaching it. But the evidence base tips for fostering empathy in children. And the article that I kind of pulled this from and I’ll link to this on the show notes it’s from parenting science, dotcom. It’s it’s from a Gwinn Dwar PhD and it is about teaching empathy. She says it might sound strange if you think of empathy as an innate fixed trait, a talent that some people are born with and others lack, because I think a lot of us do feel that way of that. Either someone has empathy or they don’t. But empathy is not an all or nothing proposition. It isn’t something that unfolds automatically in every situation, and it isn’t even a single ability or skill. And I am going to go into so much data research here that Gwinn Duaa. So a lot of the things that I’m going to pull from or from this parenting science article, but she has it so well researched, so well noted. So I’m going to throw out some a lot of when I when I refer to a study, if you don’t mind, I’ll just throw the last names out and then the year of the study.

[00:06:25] And if you go follow the links on the notes to this parenting science article, then she has all of these references there, too. But so here’s where I want to work from. It’s the CD. And Coull in 2014 argue that the word empathy has become a catch all term for three discrete, distinct processes. And this is why I like this empathy. They have it boiled down to three things. One is emotional sharing, which occurs when we experience feelings of distress as a result of observing distress and another individual so emotional sharing. So one component of empathy is, you know, almost when you hear about the concept of someone being an empath, where they experience the feelings of distress by watching someone else experience distress as well, there’s empathetic concern, which is the motivation to care for individuals who are vulnerable, so empathetic, concerned. So it’s like, I want to do something. I want, you know, when people feel like I see people in need, I want to do something. There’s feeling what they feel. There’s feeling like I want to do something when I see someone who is feeling a certain way. And then here’s the one that I think we typically think of when we think of empathy, it’s perspective taking the ability to consciously put oneself in the mind of another individual and imagine what that person is thinking or feeling.

[00:07:35] So I think we often think in terms of empathy, we forget those first two, the emotional sharing and the empathetic concern, and we just jump right to the perspective, taking the ability to consciously put oneself in the mind of another individual and imagine that that’s what they are thinking. So when we speak about somebody being very empathetic, we’re probably guilty as as as Gwen Dwar says, of mixing up all three of these. So in some individuals are going to score high and all of these areas and others might not really have any of these skills across the board. And we talked about some of those in some of the the Christina Hendricks episode on. Narcissism and personality disorders are the gaslighting and but it’s common for people to experience a little bit of these three areas of empathy in varying degrees, and they can even change over time. For instance, says that many young children show high levels of emotional sharing and they demonstrate strong but limited evidence of empathetic concern. But then they’ll struggle with perspective taking. You know, it’s hard to kind of my wife and I right now at our church volunteer in the nursery. And so it’s hard to kind of show perspective taking to someone who is very small and tiny when you’re saying, hey, how do you think that made them feel when you took their toy? You know, that kid doesn’t care.

[00:08:43] He’s got the toy right. So it’s hard for him to kind of understand that perspective thinking now as as kids get older, their perspective taking skills improve. But it’s primarily when we provide them with opportunities to practice so they’ll learn social norms about when and how to show empathetic concern. You know, they’ll understand that when someone is suffering or someone is sad, the social norms almost teach you how to show that empathetic concern of that man. I feel bad because that person is feeling bad. They also will learn about their own emotional responses. So so these experiences can lead to enhanced empathy or the reverse. Children may learn to show more responsiveness in caring or less. So it really depends on the content of their lessons. Here’s what to wear where Gwinn said that Gwen, as if I know her Ph.D.. I want to call her doctor door. So Doctor said where they taught empathy, that empathy often requires an open mind and an effort to learn how differently others experience that the world did. They learn to shut out unpleasant feelings by retreating from people in distress. This is a big one. We’re going to talk about this one here in a minute. Or do they learn how to control their personal reactions so they can respond with sympathy and help? Did they learn practical, concrete actions to take when someone is in trouble? So what do you do when you see someone who is suffering or someone who is sad? I mean, were they taught by a parent or a caretaker that, hey, don’t look over there, that person’s really sad.

[00:10:01] We just need to keep moving or where they learned, you know, where they just kind of learn to, hey, what do you think that person’s going through? Or they learn to even just take over and talk to the person, go give the person a hug, give the person a sandwich, whatever they were taught. And we start to see how that comes into play with teaching empathy. So did they learn practical, concrete actions to take when somebody is in trouble? Did they learn that empathy is to be reserved for a select few or for individuals from every walk of life? Right. Is this one of those things of where if you’re in a area that you’re not very comfortable with and you see someone who is suffering or someone who is sad, or you learn that, hey, we don’t really know everything that’s going on here, so keep it moving. So empathy isn’t something that you either have or it’s not something that you lack and isn’t something that develops automatically without input from the environment. So she says there are different facets and degrees of empathy and the way we socialize our children matter.

[00:10:47] So I’m going to hit five out of these. She has ten tips to teaching empathy. And again, there’s some amazing studies that we’re going to cover today. So she says teaching empathy. Tip number one, provide children with the support they need to develop strong self-regulation skills. What does that mean? Feeling someone else’s pain is unpleasant. So it shouldn’t surprise us if a child’s first impulse is to shrink away. When they say see, when they see someone in pain, they’re going to pull away, they’re going to come to their caretaker. So children are more likely to overcome this impulse when they feel secure and have strong self-regulation skills. So, for instance, when children have a secure attachment, when they have these attachment relationships with their caregivers, they know they can count on their caregiver for emotional and physical support and so that these children are more likely to sympathize and offer help to people in distress. So what does that look like when your child sees someone else who is suffering and they come to you? If you are there for them, if you put the you know, if you give them the hey, don’t worry about it. Don’t don’t worry about that person, then what is that teaching that’s kind of teaching them to not feel that emotional connection towards someone who is is suffering or struggling. In addition, children who are better at regulating their negative emotions tend to show greater empathetic concern for others.

[00:11:55] That’s from a study by Last Name song in twenty seventeen. So therefore, we can foster empathy by being what Dr. Dwar says, emotion coaches. What that means is acknowledging rather than dismissing our child’s negative feelings. And let me just jump up here and say that what I’m saying, child, in this situation, it can be your your child, your teen, it can be your spouse. I mean, and this is that that no fixing in judgment statement. This is that more. Tell me more about what’s going on for you kind of statement that I’ve covered in other podcasts. So not to dismiss negative feelings, engage in conversation about the causes and effects of emotions. It also means helping kids find constructive ways to handle their bad moods. Not any of the hey, don’t worry about that. That’s not your problem, because what does that say? That says I see your emotion, I see your response, and I don’t want to hear about it because it’s not valid emotion. Coach, remember that you can be that be there. Don’t dismiss, acknowledge the negative feelings and engage in conversation about the causes and effects of emotions. Tell me what’s going on in your life, child, the teen spouse. So while emotion Koshy emotion coaching is help kids of all ages, there’s a study by Johnson et al. So that means Johnson and pals. Twenty seventeen.

[00:13:07] It says, younger children who struggle with negative. May benefit the most. In addition, there’s evidence that young children develop better perspective taking skills when we talk to them about mental states like beliefs, desires and goals. So if you have a toddler, it isn’t too early to start thinking about your role as one of these emotion coaches. And one experiment is kind of this where stuff gets really interesting. Loopt and in 2016, parents were encouraged to increase their coaching efforts and when so, they produced immediate positive effects. Preschoolers showed improvements in their ability to handle frustration. So and that in that scenario, they were encouraged to just talk more about what’s going on with the child. Even a toddler not told the don’t worry about it. Hey, stop crying. Or even just the good old distraction model. No, they kind of doubled down on. Hey, tell me what’s going on there for you. What do you what do you see? What are you feeling? What are you thinking? OK, I love this second one. Teaching empathy, tip number two, CS everyday opportunities to model and induce sympathetic feelings for other people. If you observe someone in distress, real life TV a book Dr. Dwyer says talk to your child about how that person must feel, not even about what’s going on for you, about how that person must feel. There’s a study by Pizarro and Solovki in 2002 that says even a very brief conversation can have an effect.

[00:14:21] For example, in an experiment on Dutch schoolchildren ages eight to 13 years old, gelee Sariska and her colleagues presented kids with some hypothetical scenarios about school. Here’s what they said. They said that your classmates turned to stay late and clean up the classroom, but she wants to go home as soon as possible because her mother is quite ill. So she asks you, would you help her? So would you do it? Would you help her? In one scenario, the students were told to imagine that the girl was one of their friends. In another scenario, they were told the girl was not one of their friends and that distinction mattered. Children expressed less willingness to help when the girl was not depicted as a friend. But here’s where things got kind of interesting. The results changed when researchers added an extra step to the procedure. Instead of immediately asking children if they would help, the experimenters first ask them to think about the girl and rate how sad or upset she was likely to be again in the scenario that she had to stay late to clean up. But she needed in her core she wanted to get home because her mom was quite ill. So even just to go over that information again, that extra step of how do you think the girl would rate her on how sad or upset she was likely to be after rating emotions, then the children showed no bias in favor of the friend.

[00:15:28] They were equally likely to say they would help the girl, whether she was a friend or not. So that extra reminder was enough to change the children’s judgments. So I think the significance there is that we’re normally or we’re initially going to say, well, what’s what’s in it for me? Almost as that person, my friend, is that person, not my friend. But then once we even take the time to just say, hey, that girl, how sad do you think that she is right now for what she’s going through and in children then when they recognize me, I bet she’s kind of sad, then they’re more likely to help. So in the grand scheme of things, what does that teaching is teaching someone to step back and kind of assess the situation and a little bit of it’s throwing out some of that perspective, taking to see what must that be like. Right. There’s some emotional sharing there when when they see or experience the feelings of distress by observing distress in another individual. And then there’s that pathetic concern, which is that motivation to care for somebody who is vulnerable in distress. And then finally, that perspective taking. So in that study, you almost see, instead of someone who has a little bit of the emotional sharing where they see that someone’s going through a hard time, but they lack that that necessarily that empathetic concern or perspective taking.

[00:16:35] So teaching empathy, tip number three, helping kids discover what they have in common with other people. I found this one fascinating to adults tend to feel greater empathy for an individual when they perceive the individual to be similar to them. They also find it easier to empathize with someone who is familiar. So research suggests that children also have similar biases. And if you step back and think about this as an adult, a lot of times this is the thing where if you if someone is going through something hard at your work and your work tends to rally and saying you want I like to think in that term of community or tribe, someone in your church, someone in your work, someone in your neighborhood, when you feel that they are similar to them, you find it easier to empathize. So as a result, one of the best ways to encourage empathy is to make children conscious of what they have in common with others. And this one goes into the concept of getting out and meeting people from different backgrounds and learning about what life is like in different places. So conversations are helpful. But this is what is this is what’s fascinating. It’s worth. Remember that kids are heavily influenced. And this is a doctor said by what we actually do unless by what we say.

[00:17:33] And how many times do we are we aware of that when someone is saying, here’s what you need to do, but then you don’t see them back that up? Right. A lot of us tend to go with that word of a hypocrite. So, you know, it’s more of and as a parent, I think oftentimes we want to make sure that we’re modeling that behavior, that we want our kids to do it. If we’re saying you need to be kind as we are being mean to other people and any kind of goes back to that classic, someone is yelling at their kid, don’t you yell, you know, it’s what’s the what are you modeling? So decades of research indicate that one of the biggest predictors of racial prejudice, for example, and a failure to empathize with members of other groups is having little or no contact with. Who aren’t like you and studies also suggest that schools boost empathy in students when they foster multiculturalism in an inclusive, warm attitude, that it fosters cultural diversity. A couple of studies, Lee and Chang in this two thousand nine, 2011. This enhanced empathy is linked with increased happiness and scholastic achievement. So there there is enough research to back up the fact that when kids are exposed to more multicultural, different environments, different places, then that leads to increased happiness and scholastic achievement, because they do start to see how they can connect with others and what they do have more in common, not more of an isolation view, which then leads to maybe a less a lack of empathy, teaching empathy, tip number for foster cognitive empathy through literature and roleplaying y feeling someone else’s pain isn’t the entire story.

[00:18:58] So when we hear the word empathy, a lot of people do focus on that concept of emotional sharing. Again, that’s which occurs when we experience feelings of distress as a result of observing stress in another individual. But that comes with a cost. As we as noted kind of in that introduction, emotion sharing can make us want to back away, especially when we encounter someone in pain or distress. And even if we resist this impulse to back away, our own emotions can distract us from accurately judging what a victim really needs. So just having this this affective empathy isn’t enough to be good helpers. We also need to have cognitive empathy, the ability to take another person’s perspective, that perspective taking and imagine what actions might make that person feel better. The process is more dispassionate and cerebral and less stressful and often leads to more accurate judgments. So let’s get to a study first in brain scan studies, individuals who score high in this cognitive empathy tend to experience less stress reactivity when they witness distress and others, and they’re actually better at responding in helpful ways now. So how do we foster this? Cognitive empathy? Fictional stories and real life narratives offer excellent opportunities for teaching empathy and sharpening a child’s perspective, taking skills.

[00:20:08] So what a character think. What do they believe, where they want, how they feel, and how do we do it? When we actively discuss these questions, kids can learn a lot about the way other people’s minds work. That’s according to a study by Dun Dun in early 2000 2001. And one experimental study, though, here. Here we go. One hundred and ten school age kids were enrolled in a reading program. Now some students were randomly assigned to engage in conversations about the emotional content of the stories they read. Others were asked only to produce drawings about the stories. So after two months, the kids in the conversation group, the ones that were talking about the emotional content of the stories, showed greater advances in emotion, comprehension, theory of mind and empathy. And the positive outcomes remain stable for six months or more. That’s according to a study or NOGI in 2014. Other research suggests that role playing is useful. And man, I am a terrible role player in grad school. We often in role playing and even in my office at times I will try some role playing and I will say that it works a lot of times where I might say, OK, let’s kind of put you through the paces in this. How would you communicate with your spouse or your kid, that sort of thing.

[00:21:15] But in an elaborate role playing trial, researchers asked young, healthy medical students to simulate the difficulties of old age. For example, students were goggles covered with transparent tape to simulate the effects of cataracts, and they were heavy rubber gloves to experience poor motor control. After the experiment, the student showed greater empathy toward the elderly. That’s according to a study by Vaki and 2006. OK, let’s cover one more today. Teaching empathy. Tip number five fostering cognitive empathy through compassion training. sounds exciting, right? Literature and role playing can provide children with insights into other minds and other perspectives. But what about those feelings of personal distress? When we kind of feel it in our bones, when we feel bad, when we feel sad for somebody else, how do we how do we keep that type of empathy from overwhelming us? Research suggests that certain meditation practices, mindfulness, mindfulness meditation and compassion meditation may be helpful. And this brought up something for me as a therapist. There are often times where I deal with heavy things, whether I’m dealing with divorce, whether I’m dealing with suicide. And there’s just a lot of things that sometimes I think when people say, man, that must be hard or do you take that home with you? And every now and again, when I step back and think, man, I really don’t do much, I’ll even think, what’s wrong with me? You know, am I am I robot? Am I a psychopath? What’s going on here? But but, you know, sometimes I just feel so blessed or fortunate with the training or maybe some of the things that have kind of led me to the point of where I am today, that I didn’t even necessarily realize that in all of this mindfulness meditation that I learned early in my practice that that is kind of been helpful along the way.

[00:22:50] And I’ll kind of get to that a little bit more for examples and studies of compassion training. Let me talk about that participants. What they do is they visualize their own past suffering and they relate it to feelings of warmth and care. So what that can mean at times, and it really is that kind of concept of gratitude we talked about a little bit before Thanksgiving, but. In a little bit of a different way, so sometimes there really is that just when you’re kind of overwhelmed, when you have these feelings of personal distress, when you’ve kind of heard what’s going on with someone else, that at times it’s important to kind of sit back and just be grateful for what you do have and trying to. And that’s why I think it’s really important to and I’ve been doing this more of trying to keep a little bit of a keep some thoughts down every night of what I am truly grateful for that when you can kind of start from that place, what you’re grateful for.

[00:23:40] And then at that point, you can even look at some of your own and what they’re talking about. This Klimek study from 12 14, then visualize some of your own past sufferings, but then relate it to feelings of warmth and care. What I believe is that then when you kind of relate it to OK, but here are some things that are good. Here are some things that I’m grateful for. And they say that to maintain this focus, sometimes people repeat phrases like, may I be sheltered by compassion or may I be safe or may I be free from the suffering? I think if you are a spiritual person, this is where prayer comes into play. And I’m a big proponent of prayer where at this point then, you know, you can you truly are grateful and thankful for even the challenges that you have and just being grateful to be watched over, guided that sort of thing and feel like that kind of fits into this fits into this compassion, compassion training. So a little bit more here, though. Participants then repeat this exercise, but with other individuals as the targets for compassion. So can I have compassion on others? May I be able to help others? May be a tool in in the hands of healing others.

[00:24:42] They start to imagine a close loved one and then maybe they extend their compassionate wishes to a series of others. A neutral person, a difficult person, humanity in general. Again, if you are maybe more of a spiritual person, you can even see you maybe see some of those things in there where it really is starting to pray for others, even a difficult person, humanity in general, that it does kind of get you out of your own world, your own head, and kind of it just nurtures that compassion. So for adults, a single day of training has been enough to yield differences in brain activity and behavior. A study done by Lederberg in 2011 showed that compared with individuals who received some type of memory training, individuals training and compassion were more likely to help a stranger during the course of a game. So I love that. So even just kind of nurturing this compassion, this prayer, this compassion training that that even doing that will will actually help you develop this empathy. So also, compared with participants trained in effective empathy, they showed less activity. And parts of the brain associated with second hand pain and distress have brain regions linked with reward. Love and affiliation remained active. So the more of this compassion training, that one does less activity in the parts of second hand pain and distress. Now, I think that’s key. We’re not trying to remove the the empathy piece, but that part that makes people feel bad and causes them to withdraw.

[00:26:01] So I think here’s where the here’s where this kind of makes more sense. Similar techniques have been used successfully for adolescents and they can be adapted for younger individuals, for preschoolers. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison developed and tested a 12 week classroom program called the Kindness Curriculum. The twenty fifteen, I believe, was the study. Among other things, it features group lessons and attention to emotions in the self and others, practical brainstorming sessions for helping others in exercises and showing gratitude. A randomized controlled study found the program to be effective for teaching empathy and preschool social skills. The researchers responsible for the kind of curriculum they are making that available to the public for free. So if you Google that or try to have a link for that, you can find out what that 12 week curriculum was. But I think the key there is that what what people are doing is as where they as they are able to kind of be more sit there with their emotions and then be able to turn those outward or turn those toward things that they are grateful for or having compassion toward others, then you’re able to kind of sit there a little bit more with those feelings and emotions so that when you are presented with these situations of distress from another, instead of withdrawing, you lean in a little bit more.

[00:27:07] You maybe have a little bit more of that empathy. So what did we learn today? Learned that empathy is in fact extremely important. We’ve learned that there are three different components to empathy, emotional sharing, which again, that occurs when we experience feelings of distress as a result of observing distress in another individual empathetic concern, which is a second component of empathy, which is the motivation to care for individuals who are vulnerable and distressed. And the final one is perspective taking, which is the ability to consciously put oneself in the mind of another individual and imagine what that person is thinking or feeling to me. I think that’s the one that most people think of when they think of when they typically think of empathy. So while empathy has become more of a catch, all that that it is not only it does there are different components, empathy, but that also we can do something about empathy. So I covered five of these these tips today and I’m going to cover more in the future. But just a quick summary of the five. Number one, provide children with the support they need to develop strong self-regulation skills. This is that concept that while feeling someone’s pain can be unpleasant, we really need to be more emotion coaches and acknowledging rather than dismissing someone’s negative feelings, again, I don’t think that just applies to children, but teens and even their spouses as well.

[00:28:17] Empathy, tip number two, sees everyday opportunities to model and induce sympathetic feelings for other people. And this is that one that had the Dutch school age children that had you think more a little bit about what the girl was going through, who needed to stay late at school. And once you kind of understood or rated her about how sad she was, then people were willing to help, whether it was their friend or not, teaching empathy. Tip number three was helping people discover what they have in common with other people kind of stepping outside of your comfort zone a little bit. Number four is fostering cognitive empathy through literature and role playing fictional stories. Real life narratives are excellent opportunities for teaching empathy and sharpening a child’s perspective, taking skills. What are the characters think, what they believe, what they want, how they feel. And this was that study that had people in a reading program and some were assigned to randomly engage in conversations about the emotional content. Others just drew pictures about the stories. And after two months, the kids in the conversation group showed greater advances in emotion, comprehension, theory of mind, empathy and the positive outcomes remain stable for quite some time. And teaching of the tip number five, compassion training. So whether that is a mindfulness meditation, compassion, meditation, whether it’s prayer, whatever that is, that you can continue to foster that concept of empathy.

[00:29:31] Hey, I hope you’re enjoying this bonus episode on teaching your kids empathy and never in the history of podcasts. If I had a better, more natural place to insert an ad than between the first five, teaching your kids empathy concepts and the next five, they’re coming up. So let me talk about class virtual couch. Of course, you can fast forward through this, if you would, like. I often do on the ads myself. I can’t I can’t lie. But if you are looking at getting therapy for yourself, if you’re trying to encourage a loved one, someone in your family to get therapy, if they’re afraid to go into the therapist’s office, let me recommend virtual couch. First of all, you get 10 percent off your first month services. They do have a sliding scale. They have scholarships. They have the ability to connect with a therapist within 24 to 48 hours, which is pretty phenomenal in this day and age. And as a therapist myself, of course, I recommend that everybody give therapy a try because we’re all hanging on to things that would be helpful to process or the things in our life that we maybe thought we would achieve by now or things we desperately want to achieve so that we won’t live a life full of regrets.

[00:30:30] So if you are noticing that your anxiety or your depression is becoming a bit more after what we’ve had in the last year, the political elections, the the uncertainty of when the world will go back to quote, normal, that was with air quotes then the longer it’s left untreated, the worse at times things can get, because when you just leave them kicking around in your head, they don’t typically end up in. And they lived happily ever after, after, happily ever after. You know, I was going with that. So you do yourself those around you, your spouse, your kids, you owe it to you to give therapy to try. So if you’re nervous about finding the right fit or bumping into somebody in a therapy waiting room, then go to a virtual couch dot. No, no, no. Go to virtual couch and take a look at the world of online therapy. Try what now? Over a million people have done and go today such a virtual couch with the help that you need or maybe didn’t even know that you truly needed. What are you waiting for? All right. Let’s get back to this episode on empathy, teaching kids empathy, how to model empathy, all things empathy. Coming up. Part two right now.

[00:31:30] So great feedback from part one. So I wanted to get to this part two ASAP and initially plan and wait in a couple of weeks, but I just got a lot of good feedback from it. So let me answer the most asked question that I received over the past week. Here it is. Is it true that women are more empathetic than men? And I really I had to do a little bit of digging here because I would have just reactively said yes. But here’s what I discovered. The question, what about sex, male or female or females more empathetic. So folk wisdom argues that women are more empathetic than men and studies generally confirm. And this is what I thought was interesting, that females report more feelings of empathy. But that might be explained by, you know, you could call it cultural training or in societies where men are expected to be the strong, silent type rub a little dirt in it. The Lone Ranger, John Wayne, stoic, that sort of thing. You know, they are they’re reluctant to acknowledge their feelings with regard to empathy. So this notion is supported by recent neurological research and a study that presented adults with emotional imagery, including pictures of people in pain when reported feeling more empathy. But the activity in their brains, that’s what I thought was fascinating, as measured by an EEG related to it, did not reveal evidence of differences in cognitive empathy. That was from a study by growing in 2012.

[00:32:41] Another study presented kids ranging from ages four to seventeen with animated clips depicting people getting hurt again. The females reported more feelings of empathy. But when researchers looked at physiological signs like pupil dilation and cerebral blood flow, there were no differences between boys and girls. That’s from one by a researcher named Michala Julka in 2013. So I think it’s kind of it’s a little bit too much of a generalization to just say that that girls are. More empathetic than males, and in fact, it kind of digs a little bit deeper to just that social stigma that we put out there that boys are not supposed to show for show their feelings or that men are not supposed to. So there are plenty of the one of the articles I’ve said. They’re plenty called women the world, plenty of warm men. If boys do demonstrate less empathy or empathetic concern for others, this is actually a reason to help them develop their communication skills, not to give up. So it really does say something about helping men and boys be OK with expressing emotion and expressing empathy. So there you go, that if you go look at pupil dilation, cerebral blood flow and even the electrical activity of the brain, men are empathetic. Sorry, guys can out of you. They’re a little bit right. I also ran to when I was studying, when I was looking up that I found a pretty interesting article that said, are we morally stupid, morally precocious or something in between? First of all, I is funny with my kids in the home.

[00:34:05] Stupid was a bad word. It was the S word. So that even feels funny to say. But the author, George Eliot, muses that we’re all born morally stupid, unable to see others except through the lens of our own interest and standards, which is part of that concept we were talking about last week of empathy, early psychological theories of moral and cognitive development. Dawson’s claim, according to Jean PJI children are supremely self-interested or egocentric until about seven years old, and moral rules are slowly acquired through interactions with peers. And I want to do it. I want to do a whole podcast on this next guy, Lawrence Kohlberg, who believe that moral development proceeded through six stages. And the stages are fascinating. But I’m just going to cover a little bit in briefly hear from the young child’s focus on the avoidance of punishment, which was kind of one of those early stages to the idealized adult’s adherence to universal principles. And the article that I found here is said, Yet two year old Jeremy’s animated concern for the welfare of a stranger seems to contradict these claims that we are all inherently morally stupid creatures. So you can see a very young child show that they have a moral compass. So in the 21st century, as it turns out, we don’t need to speculate on these matters.

[00:35:11] Scientific studies have provided a startling view of the infant mind. So are we born morally as the article articles that stupid or the picture that is emerging that is far more complex and nuanced than even Eliot or P.J. or Kollberg or any of these psychologists dreamed? Here’s the experiment in one series of experiments. Six month old infants. This is this blows my mind. We’re shown video clips of a red disc straining to roll up the hill, a yellow square RAICES into view and pushes the circle up the hill. Here comes a blue triangle, it appears, and tries to push the circle back down to the bottom of the hill. The infants are then presented with a tray containing two toys, a yellow square or a blue triangle. Guess which ones the infants overwhelmingly chose to play with. Overwhelmingly a yellow square, the yellow square that had tried to help the red disc up the hill and not the blue triangle that tried to push the circle back down the hill. So six months old kind of blows me away, right? That that there’s a little bit of a moral compass there. So kind of fascinating. OK, so back to the topic today, teaching empathy, evidence based tips for fostering empathy in children. And I’m going over again this study by Gwen Duaa, Ph.D.. And just really quickly, I wanted to kind of just jump over those.

[00:36:28] We talked about three different parts of empathy. And this is I guess this is one of those times to say if you have a listen to part one, I would strongly encourage you to do so before you go to part two. But you can jump right in here and hopefully this one will still make sense. But empathy isn’t an all or nothing proposition. And there’s a researcher’s gene density. And Jason Carroll in 2014 did argue that the word empathy has become a catchall for three distinct processes. One is called emotional sharing, which occurs when we experience feelings of distress as a result of observing distress in another individual emotional sharing. So the concept of being an empathy, where you’re feeling other people’s pain, perhaps empathetic concern, which is the motivation to care for individuals who are vulnerable or distressed. When you see somebody in need, you just want to do whatever you can to take care of them. And then here’s the one that we often think of perspective taking or the ability to consciously put oneself in the mind of another individual and imagine what that person is thinking or feeling. So when we talk in terms of everyday somebody being empathetic, I think that we are we are typically talking about this perspective taking. But in in reality, we’ve got those three components, emotional sharing, empathetic concern and perspective taking. OK, so let’s get back to the tips of how to teach empathy, teaching empathy.

[00:37:40] Tip number six, help young children improve their face reading skills so it’s hard to show empathy if you can’t read face as well. So some children, preschoolers in particular, are at a disadvantage because they truly do misinterpret facial expressions. If you show them photographs of people modeling different emotions, whether it’s happy or sad or angry or fear, surprise those sort of things that kids often misidentify what they see. And those difficulties can cause social problems. That’s according to a study by Parker in 2013. So what do we do about this? There are evidence based tips on how to help children decipher nonverbal cues of emotion. So some of these are you can be a caregiver who talks insightful, gives insightful talk and conversations around emotion. Study suggests that children develop better. They call them, quote, mind reading skills, and we expose them to accurate, sensitive talk about thoughts and feelings. So you want to be able to to point out, if you see someone sad of identifying that, that would say that person sad. If someone is happy, you’re identifying that that person is happy, what’s that person going through? So it really is pointing out emotions. So you are helping the your child identify. Correct facial cues. Number two, this is pretty important to ask kids to consider the overall situation in context and then use that information to make sense of facial expressions. So we really shouldn’t expect kids, especially little kids, to rely on facial cues alone so young kids can use their understanding of a situation to help them make sense of facial expressions.

[00:39:02] For example, they see somebody drop their ice cream, which is extremely sad that they can imagine how they would feel if this happened to them as well. Have you ever done that? If you ever kind of said, man, if you drop your ice cream buddy, how would you feel? It would seem to give you a sad right. And then his facial expressions are going to change as well. And it’s just a matter of bringing awareness to a that’s that that’s what people look like when they’re sad. So then you’re kind of feeling you’re joining that person in that situation. Talk with children not only about facial expressions, but also about other forms of body language. By the way, this is the third evidence based tip on how we help kids read faces, which is part of this, the piece on empathy, the number six tip talk with children, not only about facial expressions, but also about other forms of body language. So children are sensitive to much more than a person’s facial expression. They also notice tone of voice. Boy, do they rate body posture gestures. When you’re reading a story together or observing someone in real life help kids make connections between different kinds of nonverbal cues. And I think that’s a fun one, too.

[00:39:54] I don’t know if you’re a I remember when I was reading stories to my kids, can’t wait till I can do this with my grandkids, by the way. But really getting animated with the stories. I mean, you do you use up your body language, your facial expressions, tone of voice, and that’s a good time to kind of really work that out. So if you’re ever in there reading stories, your kids, you feel silly about it. Don’t that’s that’s part of what you’re teaching them. You’re teaching them how to learn other forms of body language, which is ultimately teaching them empathy. And the fourth tip it gave here for extra practice, try playing emotion identification game. So this is interesting. Researchers have developed training programs that ask kids to practice categorizing the emotions depicted by facial expressions. For example, in one study, researchers gave typically developing elementary school students training in the identification and self production of visual cues. So after only six half hour sessions, children improve their ability to read emotions compared with those who did not have any practice. So how do we do that at home? There are some people that suggest things like emotion cards. You can also go through a magazine. Actually, the kids, not magazines, are these days. You can go through a magazine and you can point out facial expressions, that sort of thing. I remember a book that I used to read to my kids when they were younger, and it really was simply one of those, you know, is this person happy? Is this person said Sassen.

[00:41:00] Crying’s this person excited. And it’s funny. Those kind of books make more sense now. I think I like them at the time because, you know, it’s just fun to hear your little kid maybe mispronounce some different, you know, and is it a boy or girl, you know, or that is that they have light hair, dark hair just to get there when they talk. But so those are ways that you can help your kids identify facial cues. And that is important, right? Teaching empathy, tip number seven. And along those lines show kids how to make a face while they try to imagine how somebody else feels. So suppose I tell you to make a sad face, go and do it right now with your feet on the treadmill, people are going to be a little bit concerned. But if you’re driving along or just listening at home, if you make a sad face, just play-acting not really experiment show that simply going through the motions of making a facial expression can make us experience the associated emotion. So while researchers have asked people to imitate certain facial expressions, they have detected changes in brain activity, their characteristic of the corresponding emotion. So people also experience emotion, appropriate changes in heart rate, skin conductance and body temperature. That’s from DeSean Jackson in 2004.

[00:42:01] So it actually seems likely that we can boost our empathetic powers by imitating the facial expressions of people that we want to empathize with. And I really feel like, you know, empathy comes in so many different forms or levels or different people or again, have kind of more of this in their factory settings than others. And you can almost watch some people when they are watching movie, their face gets sad or when they’re observing someone, you know, watching somebody at church the other day when is giving a talk and somebody near to me. I mean, they just were so emotional as they watch the person up in the pulpit speaking. And you could tell that that person was just taking on those emotions. So, you know, kind of showing kids how to make a face while trying to imagine how somebody else feels that actually making the face again, happy, sad, excited changes some of the things that are going on in your brain to kind of mimic that as well. Teaching empathy, tip number eight, help children develop a sense of morality depends on internal self-control. And this what blows my mind kind of not on rewards or punishments. So kids are capable of being spontaneously helpful and sympathetic. But experimental studies have shown that kids can become less likely to help others if they’re given material rewards for doing so. So kind of wild, right? So what the research goes on to say is that when you know that kids in essence want to help and when they know that they are only helping for a reward, that typically they aren’t as likely to go back and help a second time.

[00:43:24] And and I know that they’re you know, so then the question becomes, is it worth it to bribe or incentivize my kid to help? You know, that’s where I go back to. It’s almost that concept of harm reduction that I work with in the world of addiction and harm reduction. Just in a quick nutshell is if you have somebody doing a extremely, extremely bad behavior, whether it’s some sort of addictive behavior. And I’ll give you a really quick example. Right. So back to this concept of working with the concept of pornography addiction. Right. So if you’re kind of looking for the triggers, if one of the triggers is complete boredom or sometimes I call it crime of opportunity, let’s say for a teenage boy. And so that teenage boy is home alone and there’s that trigger. And then there’s the thought where he’s going to go, start looking at pornography, that sort of thing. And then there’s the action. The harm reduction model would say, OK, you know, in a perfect world, he’s going to run out of the house. He’s going to call a friend, he’s going to do that, or you exercise mindfulness techniques, those kinds of things. But but you know what the harm reduction concept says is that or if he’s going to play video games for an hour instead of looking at pornography, which is going to, you know, have a far more kind of consequences of negative consequences of working one’s sexuality or, you know, kind of blasting out as dopamine receptor.

[00:44:32] So he’s gonna want to go to more and more, you know, hardcore, those kind of things. Then playing video games is a considered harm reduction. So every now and again, I’ll have a mom maybe text me later on after I’ve seen a teenager. So you really tell him that playing video games is not a bad thing. And it’s like, well, you know, if the if his alternative is that he’s he is being very open and honest about that, he is going to look at pornography for an hour then. Yeah. So and the harm reduction model, that’s the way that works. So so this is that concept of reward and punishment. If you are incentivizing someone by paying them and they weren’t going to do it at all, then, hey, I want them to help because they might get something out of helping. So incentivizing someone to help is not a negative thing with this study is talking about though, is that in you know, in the grand scheme of things, in the perfect world, hitting someone to be able to help because of their own internal reward system or their internal self-control, that that that is ultimately going to be more beneficial than paying somebody off.

[00:45:30] So, again, for instance, kids are more likely to internalize moral principles when their parents talk to them about how wrongdoing affects other people, which is inducing empathy. That’s from Hofman Insult saying that was back in the 60s. So there’s a link to an article. There’s an article on parental style that kind of this parental pressure as a whole article that talked about the research that goes behind incentivizing versus not incentivizing. So I’ll throw that on there, too. But, you know, in a pregnant I keep seeing the word in a perfect world, in a world, in a perfect world. But being able to have someone understand that you helping them is going to help that person live a better life or put themselves in a better position. I think I think in terms of a lot of service projects in the last couple of decades, I guess especially some with the kids when we do hygiene kits or you do and things like that for victims of floods or natural disasters. And when you’re just getting in there and you’re just you know, you get this assembly line go on and you’ve got all these donations from volunteers and you’re putting these kids together and sending out to Third World countries or even people in your own backyard and you’ve got your kids is doing that because it feels good.

[00:46:30] And then and then kind of nurturing that rather than saying, hey, if you come to this, I’ll give you 20 bucks. I think that’s kind of where that’s that’s applying to. All right. Teaching empathy, tip number nine, educating kids about the failures of the imagination. I love this one. Let me kind of set this one up first. Recently, my wife and I attended a football game. It was at a local high school here, Oakmont High School in Roseville, California. My daughter was cheerleading. And so we were going to the football game to to watch her. So Summer’s in California can be really hot. The evenings can be just perfect. They really can. But this was an unseasonably cold evening. Now I am bulb 20 different meanings in the opening of my podcast that talked about being an ultra runner. For some reason, many of the ultramarathons I do and our jackets as prizes, I have so many jackets. It’s incredible. They should be donating some of those. I have more than pairs of gloves. Then I probably realize again, because of running early, running in the cold, that sort of thing. So I pretty much have the strict I don’t like to be cold, so I’m not going to be cold policy. But we were not prepared for this particular night. I think all the other Friday nights leading up to this, it had been just unseasonably warm. And I’m even bringing a jacket.

[00:47:36] I’m in and I’m holding on to my jacket the entire time. But this particular night, I think it was back in September or maybe October, we were we were freezing cold and haven’t even mentioned this. Part of this is a California thing or high school kids these days. But at the same game, we were so cold that we were going to walk to the car to get warm during halftime. And I’m talking I can see my car from the fence at this high school. And so just walk up. There’s a couple of parents that are manning the gate and I say, hey, doing a stamp or anything on her hand because we’re going around the car and just kind of warm up. And they said, oh, no, you don’t need a stamp, there’s no reentry. And they just did it so kindly. The. I said, I don’t know what you mean, and they just said, well, once you go out, you come back in. And I was like, Well, my car’s right there, we’re freezing. I don’t have a jacket. So I’m just going to go out out my car, come back in here. And the woman is so kind who said, yeah, you can’t do that. And I thought at the time, 48 year old man, you know, I think I can just kind of trust that I’ll go out there and sit in my car, warm up and come back.

[00:48:33] But we were told, no, you can’t do it. So anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. But my point being, have you ever failed to prepare adequately for an outing because you didn’t imagine how cold or how hungry or thirsty or tired you were going to be? This this is this is kind of fun. This is what researchers call the hot, cold empathy gap. And it appears to be a very universal problem. So when people are comfortable or calm or confident or satiated with their appetites, they forget what it’s like to be in the grip of what the researchers call a hot state. They forget how desperate certain physical conditions are, like hunger or thirst or sleeplessness or pain can make one feel. And they underestimate the power of these emotional states. So this is kind of that concept of, you know, when you’re sick, you often forget, you know, sometimes a year people say, I don’t even remember what it was like to feel better. When I feel better, I am going to never take this for for granted again. I will appreciate every moment that I feel better. But so it’s kind of that same same thing where when you are freezing cold, when I was freezing cold at that football game, it’s like I can’t even remember what it’s like to be warm. I can’t wait for it to be warm. Now, how does this apply in teaching empathy? The high caliber? The gap leads to mistakes in judgment and failures of empathy.

[00:49:45] So, you know, because it’s like you see somebody in there freezing and that sort of thing. And if you’re sitting there wearing your jacket, your meaning, your scarf, you’re kind of thinking, jeez, you know what’s wrong with them? You know, they’re just a little cold. But if you think back to those times when you were that cold, that gives you that gives you more empathy, kind of understanding that hot, cold empathy. Yeah. So, for instance, we’re talking with our children about something that’s painful that they’ve experienced. You know, we can offer them examples of other people who have been through something similar. The I the idea is absolutely not to dismiss their feelings, but rather to acknowledge those feelings and help the child feel more connected with others. The key do a little bit empathy. Work yourself their first, ask them, you know, tell me more about how you were feeling at that time. What was it like? I mean, so if you’re seeing somebody that’s freezing cold, then that’s the time. Hey there, champ. Do you remember a time when you were freezing or you remember that time that we were wherever we were out under the stars or we can’t be forgot your jacket, how cold that was. You know, you were what you were doing. Remember how you or your teeth were chattering. And when they do, it’s like, man, what do you guys feel like? And I’m telling you, sometimes that’s when your own kids are going to say, I’m going to go get my jacket, you know, and that’s that’s a parenting win, right? Boy, this one popped in my head.

[00:50:49] Maybe this is a little too much information talking about that hot, cold empathy year long, long ago that was in a double decker bus in England, speaking my software days. And I don’t think I’ve ever had to use the restroom so bad in my entire life. Again, I’m an adult. I’m a grown man. And I was to the point where it was so bad that I was kind of like, you know what, I’m sure grown men of you of wet themselves in the past as when the time where I was thinking, I probably I’m going to want to edit this. Right. But I’m not going to edit it. But I was like, they get oh my gosh, this is like insane. I mean, I am I am I am dying here. You know what happens if the bladder explodes? I mean, does my medical insurance carry over in England? I was going through all of this. And then finally we stop. And I remember it was near Harrods, a very big department store in England. And I just I get off the double decker bus. I don’t think I was supposed to at that point, but I just thought, I don’t care.

[00:51:40] I’ll get a taxi, I’ll do something, and I end up going to the restroom. And and I just remember to this day of how how bad that hurt. So so my whole point being, man, what you know, what do I do now? If we’re going on a road trip, if my kids even so much as just a hint that they have to go to the restroom and my mind goes right back to that Herod’s experience, I am not about to be that dad. That’s like, you know, we’re driving to Utah from California and you get one stop, kids. It’s like, oh, no, we’ll stop one hundred times if we have to get to the point now where my kids even, you know, I think they just assume they’re like, Dad, do you have to go to the restroom? Like, I know what that means. I say, yep, absolutely. We’ll find the next one, because that’s that empathy, you know, that cold empathy gap. I can I can put myself back in that situation. And the last thing I want is one of my kids to just be dying for hours and have me just sitting up there, you know, listening to the radio or something like that and not stopping to go to the bathroom where they want to stuff the bathroom so so we can teach kids about the existence of the empathy. Yep. I love that concept and the ways that it can bias our judgment.

[00:52:44] So before we decide that somebody is being unreasonable, we should ask ourselves, have we forgotten what it’s like to be in a situation? Have we forgotten what it’s like to be completely starving or absolutely tired or to have to go to the bathroom so bad that you were willing to put yourself on the upstairs floor of a double decker bus driving around in England? So again, so that one of my kids has to go, we are pulling over and we are going because of that that hot, cold and bitter. Yep. I understand that. All right, let’s talk about the tenth tip on teaching empathy, talk with your children about the mechanisms of moral disengagement. I thought this was kind of an interesting concept. In fact, I am going to pause here. I’m going to sneeze again. We’ll be right back. We’ll be right back after these. Said now the sneeze doesn’t. It’s gone. It’s gone. There’s a little bit of a sneeze, so you’re going to put your podcast. So let’s go back to TED, talk with children about the mechanisms of moral disengagement, the rationalizations that people use to justify callous or cruel acts. This one is deep. If you’ve taken any psychology class in high school, college, most likely you’ve heard of this research. Research has demonstrated that average, well-adjusted people can be persuaded to harm others or even torture them as long as they’re provided with the right rationale.

[00:53:48] In a famous series of experiments developed by Stanley Milgram of Yale University, subjects were told that they were participating in a, quote, learning experiment that required them to administer painful electric shocks to another person. This back in nineteen sixty three. The experiment was a fake. It was a ruse that was made convincing with plausible props and an actor who pretended to be in pain. After the study, participants pressed the button. But the participants were fooled and urged on by an authoritative man in a white lab coat. They dutifully administered shocks to the screaming victim. And in fact, I think this stuff’s on YouTube. I remember watching this and I’ve seen it a couple of times, but almost sixty five percent of the participants continued to press the button even after the victim had appeared to fall unconscious. So if you haven’t seen the study, it’s just it’s mind blowing. So somebody here, someone in another room and the person the that is in there doing the study, the participant presses a button and then it gives the person an electric shock. And there’s an authoritative figure saying, all right, go ahead and go and press it again. So sixty five percent of the participants continue to even press the button after the victim appeared to fall unconscious. The people were not psychopaths. They were ordinary people that were exposed to social pressure from a plausible authority figure. We throw a lab coat on the guy and said people are willing to kind of do things that are outside of their comfort zone.

[00:55:04] So with the right rationalizations, otherwise decent people get disengaged from their moral responses. And it’s not just an adult phenomenon. There are some studies that show that kids can do it, too. So if we’re really serious about teaching empathy, I think it’s important. I’m not saying you take your five year old and show them that experiment, but I remember that one did that one that one set there are sunk in with me for a while where I thought you just being I love the fact that just being aware that that kind of a study exists is enough to kind of change the dynamic, meaning that I you know, I would like to think that I would have been one of those thirty five percent of the people that would not have pressed the button. But now, knowing that that that is where people can get to, if they do feel this authoritative figure is asking them to do something that is against their moral compass, that, that they will say no. And this goes back to, you know, I guess this is a nice way to maybe wrap this one up today, but really goes back to just being more authentic, which which is that there’s a big soapboxes, feeling authentic. So feeling OK with what you feel is OK. So if you are one who does not want to put someone through screaming in another room as you press a button, that is that researchers telling you to do so, that you’re going to not do it, that that you are going to step back and just say, OK, now that’s not what I’m going to do.

[00:56:22] And if somebody saying, do you know that I’m telling you to or that you’re really letting me down or whatever, it’s like, I don’t care. I’m being authentic. This is not who I am. I’m not someone who is going to inflict pain or torture or someone else. So and I think that’s kind of the big takeaway from that teaching empathy. Tip number 10, which is from that Milgram study from the nineteen sixties. So so there you have it. If you go back to the first episode now this one, you got ten tips on teaching empathy. So I’m going to try to do this thing again that I really get some nice feedback from last time. Let’s go over these. So what are the what are the tips? No one was are teaching empathy. Tip number six. And so number six from today. The first five were in episode one where it was it was help you help young children improve their face reading skills. So it really is learning how to read visual cues. So and that really does go back to talking about emotions, talks about body language.

[00:57:14] It talks about playing emotional ID games, talks about really amping up your storytelling while you’re doing that, teaching kids how to make a face while they imagine how somebody else feels. Remember that when and it is that thing. I think you do hear some of the research. It shows when you smile, you know what happens in the brain lights up and that sort of thing. Same thing with friends, same thing with making a sad face that that it really does change. It detects changes in brain activity there, characteristic of those corresponding emotions. Number eight had to do with helping children to develop a sense of morality that depends on internal self-control, not rewards are punishments. I skipped an entire paragraph that I that I had highlighted here in my notes. It was talking about other research showing that kids are more likely to develop an internal sense of right and wrong if their parents use inductive discipline, an approach that emphasizes rational explanations and moral consequences, not arbitrary rules and heavy handed punishments. So this is the I was going all the way into that. The stuff about. A punishment, but for instance, kids are more likely to internalize moral principles when their parents talk to them about how wrongdoing affects other people, inducing those feelings of empathy, not just again, I like the I miss that whole concept of not just arbitrary rules and heavy handed punishments. When I have teenagers in my office, for example, I know that they’re not perfect.

[00:58:25] I absolutely know that. I think I’ve said before that parents and teenagers to me and say fix them when in reality what we’re really looking for is more modeling behavior by the parents. And a big component of that is not just these arbitrary rules that often teenagers tell me that, you know, they know that things are going to be taken away from them anyway. And they the their phone or driving privileges or whatever it is, is going to be taken away. And then it’s going to be just held as some just arbitrary rule. They may get it back. They may not get it back. They’ll get it back when they’re, quote, doing better or when they finally are being nice. And those are arbitrary rules. So those arbitrary rules don’t leave a lot of hope from the person being punished. I can I can tell you that from working with hundreds and hundreds of teenagers. So, you know, when you can kind of come up with those and say, I love that hard approach, when everybody’s kind of sitting down together, when the waters are calm, you’re coming up with some consequences that everyone’s on board with. And there’s a there’s a time frame to them. They know exactly why they’re getting the punishment or the consequence, and they know that there will be an end to it. And that way, you as a parent are not punished, but you actually are just enforcing something that has been agreed upon by everybody else.

[00:59:31] If you want more information on that, go go look up the podcast I’ve done on the nurturant approach and then teaching empathy. Tip number nine was educating kids about failures of the imagination. That is that hot, cold empathy gap. So, you know, we don’t always prepare perfectly. And it’s kind of good to put yourself back in those situations where you maybe were cold or hungry or tired or those sort of things as well. And number ten is it was that one about moral disengagement, that rationalizations that people make that keep them from being apathetic. All right. Hey, thank you so much for taking the time to learn these additional concepts of teaching empathy. And I know a lot of them were about teaching empathy to kids, but a lot of this, too, can be used with teenagers and spouses or I hope that it brings awareness to you as well, especially like that one that really rang true to me. Was that called cold empathy gap? Because we’ve all been in those situations where we have not been prepared and then we do just feel distress. And so then when we see someone else who is not prepared in a different situation, I’m sure is easy to kind of go into our own moral high horse or judgment. And there are times where we have been that person. So hopefully that will express some empathy as well.

[01:00:37] Ok, there you have it. All things you ever wanted to know about empathy, teaching, empathy, model empathy. I hope that those are some things that you can put into daily practice, because truly, empathy is one of those concepts that we we need to teach more, which we taught the class on empathy in school because it can be vulnerable, it can be scary, but it truly is one of the key fundamental principles of human connection, of human interaction. So make sure you go stop by Tony Overbay, dot com slash magnetic if you’re interested in learning more about the upcoming release of round two of the magnetic marriage course. And I would also love it if you if you like this episode, feel free to share it or read it or review it anywhere where you get your podcasts. And I would, of course, love to to talk with you on Instagram, a virtual couch. Feel free to stop by there, send me a message, questions, that sort of thing as well. So have an amazing, wonderful day week. And taking us out, as usual, is the wonderful and talented Aurora Florence with one of my favorite songs of all time, not just

[01:01:36] Because it’s at the end of my podcast, but it’s wonderful.

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