Why is it that some people seem to have more empathy than others? And some seem to have none at all. How did we get this way? Is it nature? Is it nurture?
Neuroscientist Dr. Marco Iacoboni, author of “Mirroring People, the new Science of how we connect with others” tells how scientists have discovered the brains’ capacity for what they call ‘mirroring’: the ability to feel something that happens to another as though it’s happening to us!
What we call ‘empathy’ happens when our brains light up in the same areas in our brains that mirror what the other person is feeling. One of the earliest scientific observations found a monkey’s brain fired up seeing someone licking an ice cream cone as though he were eating it himself!
Dr. Iacoboni says, “All in all, we come to understand others via imitation, and imitation shares functional mechanisms with language and empathy.”
To me that sounds like: “MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO!”
Most of us are innately wired to feel for each other. And certainly nothing makes you sacrifice for another person faster than being a parent. When your little one suffers, you suffer. When they laugh, you’re happy. And in moments of clarity we may even see a bum on the street as a mother’s once beloved child, and suddenly we are all humanity struggling with the same breath.
It’s no wonder that most spiritual faiths embrace some kind of teaching that expresses “Treat others the way YOU want to be treated”.
But how can we teach that to children?
According to Dr. Iacoboni, “…whenever you expose kids to any form of… violence, through media, through video games or through films, then you put these kids at risk of expressing violence with their own acts because they’re going to imitate that.”
We get tired. The house is a mess. The pressure is great to finish our ‘to do’ lists. But our kids will only be teachable for a little while, and they are learning from YOU things that are ‘more caught than taught’. Dr. Iacoboni said, ”The way we understand other people’s feelings is by simulating in our brain the same activity we have when we experience those emotions.”
So why not let them help with some of those chores? Turn off the TV and involve them with the day to day boring things that you want to ‘get over with’. Let them ‘mirror’ what YOU are doing. It’ll be more fun if you work together. They’ll learn to sacrifice, too! A little bit won’t hurt them. Really. And their fun will be so much better when they are done. They’ll be proud of themselves, too.
That’s why I made all my Behavior Charts and put them on GoMommyGO® for Free. So you can reinforce the kinds of behaviors you want your children to have.
I know you care about educating children for good character, or you wouldn’t be reading this.
If you ARE a parent, I know you must be pretty busy, so thank you for your time!
Here are some links you can use to help you find things fast on GoMommyGO®:
1- FREE Behavior charts on GoMommyGO (the 8 1/2 X 11 charts you download, customize and print up yourself)
Many thanks for reading and caring about the future adults around you! For your gift of any amount, I have something special for you – Click here to find out what it is!
Kids and Parents need all the help they can get.