For a person to show empathy or to develop empathy, they need to develop a sense of self-esteem which can be achieved by being sensible to the needs of the child.
If a child is devoid of care, or experiences violence, contempt or humiliation they do find it difficult to develop the sense of self which will make it difficult for them to develop empathy or empathize with others.
RAP (Response Ability Pathway) is an application of the circle of courage, which is the model of care adopted in Gateway. RAP applies the principles of Circle of Courage to help young people develop generosity (Empathy). RAP focuses on 3 intervention processes: CONNECT, CLARIFY and RESTORE which a human brain responds naturally to. People are bequeathed with the capability to Connect to other people for support, clarify challenging behavious and Restore peace in their lives.
In Gateway we use Rap practical methods to build strength of character in young people especially those with behavioural problems. Those adults who get into physical encounters with troubled young people are those who are low with empathy. The way we relate to a young person will determine how successful they will learn through us, that’s the reason why in Gateway we respond to the needs of the young people rather than reacting to their problems.
Excessive materialism can result in counterfeit associations, where young people become reliant on gadgets, screens and online communications. Self-centred thinking and the inability to delay gratification can produce very selfish young persons who find it hard to feel empathy towards others. Altruism is inborn, and the principles of empathy are obvious and apparent even in a new born. Empathy can be integrating by providing opportunities to contribute to others. To be patient, to listen, share a joke or a tear are powerful tools in empathy.
When adults share their own understanding and view point with young people and consider other people’s point of view on any situation, children begin to develop empathy earlier.
Samantha Rodman (2017) in her blog outlined six ways to teach empathy to young people, which are
1) Teaching them about emotions.
2) Reading and watching TV together.
3) After conflicts, discuss everyone’s feeling.
4) Let the young people see you resolve conflicts in your own life.
5) To act as advocate.
6) To model respect for those who seem different.
To exercise self-control, and the ability to understand a person’s feelings and that of others, and to be able to control one’s emotions is termed emotional intelligence.
Empathy can also be said to be an important factor in teaching young people about bullying and how to disengage in bullying behaviour. Teaching empathy is essential in preventing bullying in young people. Five key areas to concentrate are:
1) Making sure young people’s emotional needs are met.
2) Teaching young people how to cope with negative emotions.
3) Asking them, “How would you feel?”
4)Encouraging them to Name that feeling.
5) Encourage them to talk about positive and negative behaviours around them.
Also encouraging young persons
• To work in peer coaching programs with older or younger people.
• To enrol in programs which involves working with older people such as teaching an older person how to use a mobile phone. To enable them Interview older people about their lives and history. Visiting aged care facilities, sharing stories. Work with retired people in volunteering roles.
• To get involved with younger persons in community and environmental projects, as well as local programmes.
• To organize activities for others.
• To research about and support children living in third world countries.
Empathy can be practised when it is shown to young people consistently and when there’s opportunity to collaborate care and help others. For most young people especially boys, empathy is not considered ‘cool’, so making caring/empathy fashionable will help most young person develop empathy. Also making the act of kindness or caring very ‘cool’ or mature will encourage young people with anti-social behaviour to start seeing it in a positive light.