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Leslie Backkart

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The teaching of kindness, compassion and empathy.

Should our children be taught, without using religion, a defined feeling or emotion in having compassion, empathy and extending kindness onto others? Education to stimulate the mind is great, but stimulate something within their hearts. Children today don't seem to place the shoes of others onto their own feet. I fear we are raising a very unsocial and self motivated, self gratifying generation of children. What are your thoughts?

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  • Jul 25 2013: Leslie, While I believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to instill these wonderful personality traits in our children, I hope that you understand that there are so very many outside influences that can crush years of effort that parents put in. One of those outside influences is the media and its glamorization of spoiled brat rich kids, (as well as spoiled brat adults). On the opposite end, should a child live in a lower income community, there is the influence of seeing drug dealers drive luxury autos and wear designer clothing - so much for self-motivation and work ethic. Then we have the teens that get pregnant and end up with a section 8 housing allowance and free food and medical, thereby showing our precious children a bad example of why you don't really have to go to work. The values you speak of - compassion, empathy and kindness are something that comes with life experience as well as being taught. For example, I received wonderful care while in the hospital, and therefore can understand the value of my caring for others and how it may make them feel. On the other hand, if a person has never been ill, they may truly not know the feeling of empathy for an ill person. You can tell them all you want, but it is something you need to feel yourself and want yourself to have as an attribute. Then, we have the parents that raise their children from a place of guilt, for whatever reason, whether it is because of a broken family or because they spend too much time at work, they overindulge the child to "make up for it" , not realizing that they are doing more harm than good.

    I remember when my son was five years old, he gave a brand new toy to a friend. I wanted to tell him that it was wrong, that I just spent money on that, but my mother said "he is showing generosity, what a lovely trait". The toy stayed right where it was. My son and I both learned a lot that day.

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