Parenting might have one of the longest job descriptions one may ever hold with the least amount of pay. In fact it costs a great deal financially, emotionally and spiritually. There is no award. There is no destination. One sometimes feels like you have to wait until the end of your life time to see the end result of your work. It seems though, that I don’t have to wait until my end to see the fruits of my labor, maybe you don’t either. Together, let’s look at parenting right smack dab in the middle.Read More
What's Happening in Character Education?
Years ago, my then one-year-old son Ben played with a ball popper during playgroup. His friend Brooke found the same toy appealing and was displeased. She couldn’t form sentences yet, but she let Ben know his turn was up and the toy was rightfully hers. She babbled loudly right in his face for a full minute without stopping for air, then grabbed the toy. As my son drooled and looked at her wide-eyed, her mother sighed. “I think I’m in for it,” she told me. “I love her toughness, but my biggest fear is that she’ll grow up to be a mean girl.”
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.Read More
One of the things I always liked about teaching is that each year brings a beginning and a closure. Most jobs don’t have that; days and years tend to run together, with varying projects, perhaps, but no ceremonial starts and stops. Of course, for education, the biggest ceremony of all is graduation.Read More
As a staff, we believe in practicing what you preach, and as such we often reflect on our own core values. When we drill down to the root of it, many of us come to find that it was indeed our family who instilled the values we've come to know, love and live by. Below, you'll find stories from some of the Character.org team and how our families influenced our character.Read More
The teaching of values sounds like something that should be done at home under the parents' discretion, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, not all parents are doing this. This may be due to a number of reasons, so who is to take on this essential job?
As teachers, if we focus solely on teaching academic content without a moral compass, what kind of citizens are we producing? Educated people that lack a strong moral foundation run the risk of applying their skills in ways that do not enhance the quality of our world. Even worse, they run the risk of using those skills to lead people in the wrong direction, and if one day they find themselves in a position of power, they may use it to make decisions that are destructive to our communities or world. If world leaders of the past held values that were deeply rooted from a young age, mankind would be in a better place for it. This is our chance to make a difference for the future of our world, to create a society of smart and good citizens, and it is imperative that we approach it the right way.Read More
It’s that time of year again, a chance to express and show appreciation and gratitude toward a very special group of women and men, those educators in our lives who work tirelessly to shape the hearts and minds of our most precious resource, our children. And while we don’t have to wait until National Teacher Appreciate Week to show our school faculty and staff how grateful we are for their positive influence and inspiration, the first week of the last month of school is a fantastic time to warm their worlds with kindness so that they can feel that they are valued, treasured and loved.Read More
Topics: Teacher Appreciation
The internet is considered children and teens’ territory, yet adults are still obliged to prevent cyberbullying associated with it. Usually they are parents and teachers with whom kids spend the most of their time. However, the latter are often reluctant to report about online abuse. Of course, a lot has been already done to reduce the number of victims, but the problem still remains. Considering its possible consequences, including the fatal outcome, we cannot tolerate complacency. For sure, there is a way to change the situation for the better if teachers and parents, who have the most interest in kids’ safety, join their hands to reduce the prevalence of cyberbullying.Read More
I still have the handmade pillow I sewed with a friend in fourth grade. We wrote “best friends forever” in puffy paint across the surface. I also have the "slam book" my friends and I created at a sixth grade sleepover. In it, we listed each other’s flaws, then discussed our findings. It amazes me that we considered that a good idea. At 12, peer approval was everything, and those comments stuck. It was 30 years before I cut bangs again. We alternately loved and tested one another, and it wasn’t always pretty.Read More
When I was three, I lived in the country where my mom owned 21 acres of woodsy hillside. I was too young to form many memories there before we moved, but of the ones that remain, all but two took place outside. I had a swing set that faced the hill, and on pretty days, I would swing and focus my attention to the hill with all of its untouched trees and weeds, on the hawks that soared overhead, on the sound of nature around me. I felt the warm breeze as I watched butterflies and bees pass by. That was my happy place, outside in my little clearing.
When I was ten, I begged my dad to take me to the park every chance we got to walk the paths, see the squirrels and traverse the creeks and streams. We played games and talked, but mostly, we blazed our own trails through the woods in revered silence. As we walked, we listened to the frogs and the echo of twigs beneath our feet.
Topics: earth day