What's Happening in Character?

Michele Borba

Recent Posts

Tips to Help Your Kids with Honesty

Posted by Michele Borba on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 @ 09:07 AM

                                                                    Let’s be honest: nearly all kids—from tots to teens—stretch the truth and for all sorts of reasons: avoid punishment, make themselves look or feel better, get out of a task, keep their friend out of trouble, and start lying as young as two or three. Occasional lying is an almost expected part of child development, but whether dishonesty becomes a habit depends largely on how we respond to that lie. Statistics show we may not be doing such a good job. 

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Topics: family

10 Ways To Raise Kids To Care: Simple Ways Parents Can Help Today’s ME Generation Learn to Be Kind

Posted by Michele Borba on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 @ 09:06 AM

Empathy is the ability to identify with and feel for another person. It’s the powerful quality that halts violent and cruel behavior and urges us to treat others kindly. Empathy emerges naturally and quite early, which means our children are born with a huge built-in advantage for success and happiness.

Though children are born with the capacity for empathy, it must be nurtured or it will remain dormant. And there lies the problem: studies show that American teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. That’s a dangerous trend for many reasons. First, it hurts our kids’ academic performance, relationships and can lead to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, a lack of empathy hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for life-long success.

But there’s good news for parents. The latest science shows that empathy can be taught and nurtured. My new book, UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me-World (Simon & Schuster) pinpoints not only the forces causing the empathy crisis but also a framework for parenting that yields the results we all want: successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous and resilient. Here are ten simple ways that we can teach our kids to care about others and boost their empathy from UnSelfie, which offers over 500 simple ways.

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Topics: Borba Michele, empathy, Kindness,, Parenting

A Young Girl Helps Kids with Incarcerated Parents

Posted by Michele Borba on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 @ 10:10 AM

REALITY CHECK: During the past decades, the U.S. prison population skyrocketed, and so did the number of children experiencing the consequences of having a parent incarcerated. From just 1980 to 2000, the number of kids with a father in prison or jail rose by 500 percent.

Today more than five million children in the USA have a parent who is incarcerated.

The number of women in prison has also increased dramatically which poses a marked risk on children: incarcerated women are much more likely than their male counterparts to be primary caregivers of minor children at the time of their imprisonment. Derek Kreager, professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State points out: “Previous research indicates that if a mother becomes incarcerated, it increases the child’s risk of entry into the foster care system, which can further disrupt child well-being.”

I strongly suggest you watch Ava DuVernay’s powerful new documentary 13TH about our broken prison system. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world.

America is home to 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the prison population.

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Topics: family, Youth Track

The Five Most Creative Ways to Give Children the Edge They Need to Succeed

Posted by Michele Borba on Thu, Sep 8, 2016 @ 10:09 AM

In writing and researching UnSelfie, I flew the world, spoke with hundreds of researchers, conducted focus groups with more than five hundred children, and visited dozens of schools. I witnessed countless ways to cultivate empathy, but the most effective were always real, meaningful, and matched a child’s needs. Here are a few of the most creative ways adults around the world are making a difference in cultivating children’s empathy, creating an UnSelfie world and giving them the Empathy Advantage.

 

Be Friendly 

Empathy is always a “We” affair. A simple, overlooked way to increase empathy is by making the culture friendlier. Just being with people in a friendly setting can increase your empathy toward them and make you want to be kinder. The small South Pacific island of Vanuatu exemplifies that social premise. It’s called “the Friendliest Place on Earth” and after visiting their island, I can see why. Everywhere residents greeted you with a sincere hello and a smile and seemed genuinely interested in you. Their friendliness was contagious, so you responded right back with a hello and a smile to a stranger.

When I asked Vanuatu residents why they were so friendly, their answer was simple: “Because everyone else is.” Friendliness makes you tune in, observe emotional cues, be more receptive to others’ feelings and needs, and instead of walking by, you smile and acknowledge a person’s existence right back. But you don’t have to move your family to the South Pacific to gain that “friendly effect.” Just intentionally take friendliness up a notch in your home, school, and neighborhood; here are a few ways.

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Topics: international, empathy

Six Ways Students Can Spread Kindness in Your School

Posted by Michele Borba on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 @ 09:08 AM

Practicing kindness is what helps children tune into other people’s feelings and needs, trust more, step out of their own skins to understand others, and become UnSelfies (“more we, less me” oriented). Each kind act nudges kids to notice others (“I see how you feel”). Care (“I’m concerned about you”), empathize (“I feel with you”) and help and comfort (“Let me ease your pain”). And helping students practice kindness also activates empathy. That’s why I named “Practicing Kindness” as the sixth essential habit of empathy.

 Over the last years, I’ve observed countless classrooms around the world as I was researching ways to nurture children’s empathy. Here are a few favorite ways educators help students practice kindness and acquire empathy from my book, UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. (I’ve included over 300 practical ways based on the latest science, and none cost a dime and are simple to implement).


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Topics: Kindness,, empathy, Borba Michele, Michele Borba

Nurturing An Attitude of Gratitude in Kids

Posted by Michele Borba on Thu, Nov 26, 2015 @ 06:11 AM

by Michele Borba

There’s something about the Thanksgiving season that tunes up my “reflective switch” and makes me think a bit more about our children. I worry that over the years we’ve removed ourselves a bit as a society from the real meaning of this glorious holiday. We’re seeing an upsurge–even in a recession–of kids who are a bit too spoiled, a bit too unappreciative, and a bit more ungrateful for all the good things life has to offer.

Don’t get me wrong, of course we want our kids to be happy and give them what they want. But have you noticed that sometimes our best intentions backfire? Instead of our kids being grateful for what they are given, they are disappointed or always seem to want “more.”

In all fairness, there are a number of factors that curtail our kids from being appreciative about the good things of life.

For starters: a relentless consumption-driven media that pushes kids to think they need more, and a fast-paced lifestyle that leaves little time to help kids count their blessings.

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Topics: core values, Parenting

7 Surprising Parenting Solutions That Boost Kids’ School Success

Posted by Michele Borba on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 @ 06:09 AM

by Michele Borba

Academic success impacts our children for the rest of their lives: it influences their self-esteem, college selections, job attainment, financial success, and even their choice of spouse. It’s no wonder we go great lengths to give our kids an academic edge.

But despite our good intentions, we often overlook a few simple strategies that research has proven to impact children’s academic success. Even better, these seven science-backed solutions are things that every parent can do, don’t cost a dime, and they are proven to boost children’s school success.

Here are seven surprising simple solutions that every parent should have in their toolbox for back-to-school.

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Topics: parent involvement, Academics,, Parenting, Back to School

How to Wean Kids from TV and Video Games and Back into L.I.F.E.

Posted by Michele Borba on Sat, Aug 3, 2013 @ 10:08 AM

Noted psychologist and parenting expert Michele Borba serves on CEP's Board of Directors and shares  her blogs with us. To read more check out her home page. Follow her on Twitter @micheleborba.

The majority of parents admit their kids are in front of that TV more than they’d like, but with summer here that could pose a special problem: How to get the kiddos off the couch so they experience something other than TV these next months.

Beware: it’s easy for kids (and us) to fall into the additive habit of spending too much time in front of the boob tube. But there are dangers to our children’s emotional, physical, cognitive, and social development that we should consider. The fact is the more kids watch TV, the more time is lost
for nurturing creativity, learning sports or hobbies, reading and expanding their knowledge, playing in the great outdoors, practicing social skills, or just finding ways to entertain and enjoy themselves. Those key “Family connecting moments” are lost, as are other crucial life lessons and just experiencing those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer.

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Topics: character, character education, parent involvement, family, technology, Borba Michele

How to Talk to Kids About the Newtown School Shooting

Posted by Michele Borba on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 @ 11:12 AM

The senseless school shooting that happened Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut is every parent’s nightmare. My heart breaks, as I’m sure yours does, when I think about these families. As of this moment [written 12/14/12] 28 people, 20 of whom were children between four and ten years of age, have died. All of us-including our children-are trying to make sense of the unimaginable. If you’re a parent or a teacher you may be wondering how to talk about this tragedy with your children. Here are a few tips I hope will help you have a most difficult but necessary conversation. Gauge these pointers to the age and maturity of your child.

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Topics: Michele Borba, family, school shooting, school safety, Borba Michele

Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude in Kids

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

There’s something about the Thanksgiving season that tunes up my “reflective switch” and makes me think a bit more about our children. I worry that over the years we’ve removed ourselves a bit as a society from the real meaning of this glorious holiday. We’re seeing an upsurge–even in a recession–of kids who are a bit too spoiled, a bit too unappreciative, and a bit more ungrateful for all the good things life has to offer.

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Topics: Michele Borba, key lessons, family, teachable moments, Borba Michele

Help for Parents: 18 Tips to Protect Your Teen from Cyber-bullies

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 @ 14:09 PM

“A number of middle school students—including my daughter–are receiving vicious anonymous e-mails and text messages from peers. The school sent a letter home describing the problem as ‘cyber-bullying.’ What do I do to help my daughter? When do I worry? Do I call the police? HELP please!” - A concerned mother from Omaha, NE

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Topics: Michele Borba, bullying advice, parent involvement, cyberbullying, Borba Michele

7 Surprising Parenting Solutions That Boost Kids’ School Success

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Academic success impacts our children for the rest of their lives: it influences their self-esteem, college selections, job attainment, financial success, and even their choice of spouse. It’s no wonder we go great lengths to give our kids an academic edge.

But despite our good intentions, we often overlook a few simple strategies that research has proven to impact children’s academic success. Even better, these seven science-backed solutions are things that every parent can do, don’t cost a dime, and they are proven to boost children’s school success.

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Topics: Michele Borba, key lessons, parent involvement, Borba Michele

Bully Prevention: Helping Kids Cool Hot Tempers

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 @ 12:07 PM

“I tried to stay calm, but it was too late!”

“I wish I could tell when I’m about to explode.”

“Don’t keep telling me I’m going to lose all my friends because of my temper. I can’t help it.”

Your child may be more excitable or passionate by nature, but sometimes this emotional temperament can get out of control.

Though you can’t change your kid’s basic personality, you can teach him some strategies and skills to help him get along and handle intense feelings. And there are important reasons to do so.

Let’s face it, hot tempers can cause serious damage in health, relationships, school, life, as well as ruin your kid’s reputation. Unless kids learn ways to recognize their own unique danger signs of control their anger, problems are inevitable. After all, hot-tempered kids are no fun to be around.

New studies show that hot-tempered kids are also more likely to be bullied or be a bully.

All good reasons to work on this issue problem A.S.A.P.  And what better time than during the summer? Here are ways to work on bully prevention and ensure your child keeps his or her cool.

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Topics: Michele Borba, bullying advice, discipline, moral character, family, Borba Michele

4 Safety Rules to Curb Cyber-bullying

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 17:06 PM

REALITY CHECK: Did you know that a recent survey found that almost 70 percent of adolescents say the best way for them to be safe online is through education? Are you educating your child how to be safe online?

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Topics: Michele Borba, bullying advice, parent involvement, technology, cyberbullying

9 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Kids Reading

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 @ 15:06 PM

REALITY CHECK:Are you aware that kids can lose upward of three months’ worth of reading progress during summer break?

The infamous “summer reading slump” is well documented and shows that learning declines in most kids during these lazy, crazy days, but especially so in reading.

Kent State education professor, Timothy Rasinski, points out that this can mean a loss in a child’s reading achievement of almost one-and-a-half years through sixth grade!

But don’t despair. The reverse is also possible. Reading just a few books before school starts can save kids from a summer reading loss. Studies also show that parents can play a crucial role in curbing that drop, particularly on older kids’ reading attitudes and behaviors.

9 Ways to Help Kids Beat the Summer Reading Slump

Here are nine parenting solutions I shared on the TODAY show to get kids reading, beat the dreaded summer reading slump, and hopefully even rekindle that great love of the printed page.

1. Let them pick. A study by Scholastic found that 89% of kids say their favorite books are the ones that they pick out. Kids also say a big reason they don’t read is that they don’t like what we selected for them. So get your child involved in the selection.

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Topics: Michele Borba, parent involvement, family, Borba Michele

Surprising Ways to Nurture Empathy in Kids

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, May 22, 2012 @ 11:05 AM

by Michele Borba

REALITY CHECK: Empathy is the moral virtue that helps children “identify with and feel other people’s concerns.” When they do, they are more likely to reach out and respond in more caring, compassionate ways to others. Unlike genetics or appearance or most temperaments, empathy can be cultivated, and research shows that infants are already hard-wired. The best way to nurture empathy is for children to witness or experience it.

So now review the last few days: What has your child done or seen that would stretch — or shrink — his or her empathy growth?

The Power of Experiencing and Witnessing Empathy

Several years ago, our youngest son brought home a note from his teacher asking for parent volunteers to chaperone a class field trip. His teacher, Cindy Hollinger, was encouraging her students to give up their Saturday morning to participate in a race called “Lauren’s Run” sponsored by the City of Hope. The event was held in the memory of Lauren Zagoria, a three-year old child who died from cancer. Her parents, Janis and Marvin Zagoria, founded the event in her memory and honor and were committed to finding the cure for the disease that took their beautiful child from them.

Our local event was held on a large open field. Each racer would pay an entrance fee of a few dollars, and all the profits would go to pediatric cancer research. Volunteering to drive to that event was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made.

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Topics: Michele Borba, moral character, family, role models, Borba Michele

5 Steps to Boost Reliability and Responsibility in Children

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, May 1, 2012 @ 16:05 PM

Parenting advice to curb irresponsibility, excuses and “blame games” and boost trustworthiness, accountability and kid responsibility

Any of these sound familiar?

“I forgot.”

“Take care of this for me.”

“It wasn’t my fault.”

“I did some of it, but I left it on the bus.”

“I don’t know where I put it.”

They are statements of irresponsible kids and part of a growing trend I call the “Big Brat Factor.” Kids with an irresponsible attitude rarely stop to consider how their actions affect others, and so their attitude is selfish. The world revolves around them, so someone else will—(and should in their minds)–do their jobs, wake them up, find their toys, and replace lost items they “misplaced.” If they do err, they usually never admit their mistakes, apologize, or take ownership. After all, “It’s someone else’s fault.”  In fact, usually everyone but them is responsible for their irresponsibility.

If this attitude isn’t turned around, it will dramatically impact every area in our kids’ present and future lives: academic, moral, professional, emotional and social.

The replacement attitudes of responsibility, trustworthiness, and reliability are essential for our kids’ moral character and future well-being. So let’s get started!

 

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Topics: core values, Michele Borba, family, Borba Michele

Eight Secrets to Raise "Can Do" Kids

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 @ 16:04 PM

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Topics: Michele Borba, resiliency, parent involvement

Helping Girls Become Confident Leaders

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 @ 15:03 PM

Contributed by Michele Borba

Parenting advice on how to raise strong, confident daughters from the inside out based on research by the Girl Scouts of the USA

What parent doesn’t want his or her daughter to be a leader? After all, that top role – be it debate captain, head cheerleader, newspaper editor, play director, student body president – is deemed the epitome of success. These are the kids whom adults applaud and peers look up to.

Make no mistake, each leadership success is one more step up a ladder, and each rung up the ladder gives girls that needed “edge” to be accepted to their choice college, win that scholarship or lucrative job. But even more important: those positions are the best ways to build our daughters’ character, integrity and confidence. There is some truth to that old “We’ve come a long way, baby” slogan. Our girls have come a long way in overcoming the “'Boys Only’ Leadership Club.”

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Topics: leadership, parent involvement, Michele Borba

19 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied and What to Do about It

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 @ 15:03 PM

Warnings signs that your child is being bullied

If your child is bullied it means that a peer or peers are intentionally causing her or him pain. Peer abuse! Just the thought can send shivers down our spines.

But the fact is 160,000 children skip school every day because they fear being attacked or intimidated by other students. Reports also confirm that bullying is starting at younger ages and is more frequent and aggressive than before. And the cruel behavior increases with age. Chances are your child may be bullied.

Also troubling is that our children don’t always tell us that they have been bullied. I’ve spent many a meeting with kids who were repeatedly victimized and in clear emotional pain.

“Why didn’t you go to a trusted adult for help?” I’d ask.

Their replies were concerning:

“I did tell my mom. She didn’t believe me.”

“I tried to tell, but I got too embarrassed.”

“If I told my dad he would have only made things worse by yelling at the bully.”

“Why bother? The stuff my mom told me to try wouldn’t work.”

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Topics: bullying advice, student voice, Michele Borba

15 Serious Facts about High School Stress

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 @ 16:02 PM

Every parent and educator must know these troubling facts about our teens. Each fact is a wake-up call, but together they should mean: “Time for Code Red”

This blog was written by the Bachelor’s Degree Online and published with its permission.

One of the greatest lies ever perpetuated about the teen years is that they’re supposedly “the best years of your life.” Ask any high schooler these days how he or she genuinely feels about this statement and the opposite sentiment might very well end up relayed instead.

Every year, more and more pressures regarding classes, getting into the right college (or deciding if college is even the right choice), families, jobs, extracurricular activities, friends, relationships, and other stimuli just keep burbling away beneath their still-developing forms.

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Topics: testing, what works in education, character education in high school, Michele Borba

38 Parenting Practices That Build Moral Intelligence

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 @ 16:02 PM

REALITY CHECK: The family is the first school of virtue.

Even in our increasingly toxic culture, parents can still have the inside track in their children’s development because parents are their children’s first and most important moral teachers. That premise only applies, though, if parents choose to use their moral influence.

Remember, children do not acquire strong character in one-time lectures, but in daily teachable moments. So take advantage of everyday moments to stretch your child’s character and there are dozens!

“You have a new friend in your classroom. How do you think he feels not knowing
anyone? What could you do to help him feel less lonely?”

“Listen to the lyrics on that CD. Do you want others to think girls should be talked
about and treated that way?”

“Was that helpful or hurtful? In our home we only do things that will build people
up – not tear them down. What will you do to make amends to your friend?”

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Topics: Michele Borba, moral character, family

Nurturing Tolerance to Reduce Bullying

Posted by Michele Borba on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 @ 15:02 PM

 

Contributed by Michele Borba

How teaching children tolerance can curb bullying and peer cruelty

REALITY CHECK: Did you know that today’s American youth is displaying intolerant actions at alarming rates – and at younger and younger ages? The FBI tells us most hate crimes are committed by youths younger than nineteen.

Tolerance is a powerful virtue that helps curtail hatred, bullying, violence, and bigotry while at the same time influencing us to treat others with kindness, respect, and understanding.

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Topics: Michele Borba, bullying advice

Why Kids Bully

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 @ 16:01 PM

 

It’s not easy to know that your child is bullying.

It’s hard to admit that your kid is using aggression.

But to allow bullying behaviors to continue will be disastrous to your child’s character, conscience, reputation, well-being and mental health.

No matter the age, gender, religion, or ethnicity, any child resorting to bullying needs an immediate behavior intervention.

Please do not make the mistake of thinking that bullying just “a phase” or a “rite of passage.” Behaviors and attitudes turn into habits and can easily be entrenched and much harder to change. Now is the time to help your child.

A key to changing bullying is to uncover what is motivating the child’s behavior. Each child is different and multiple factors may play into bullying so a “one-size fits all” remedy will not work.

Best intervention plans are based on the “medical model approach.” Doctors don’t give the same medication to every patient. They first identify the symptoms, and then diagnose the reason so they can use the right treatment. The wrong diagnosis means the wrong treatment, and that means your child won’t improve.

The good news is because bullying is a learned behavior it can also be unlearned. The sooner you begin, the greater your success!

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Topics: bullying advice