The Empathy Advantage: Coaching Children to be Kind, Respectful, and Successful
by Lynne Azarchi with Larry Hanover
In the play/movie South Pacific, Lt. Cable sings a sad song called You’ve Got to be Taught (to hate and fear), referring to his own biased upbringing. In Lynne Azarchi’s new book, The Empathy Advantage, I learned that we can also be taught the opposite: EMPATHY, which I thought was part of our DNA and difficult to learn. Am I happy I’m wrong in my assumption! With this book’s guidance, I now have a tool with which to upgrade my empathy meter so that I am even more aware of opportunities for compassion, respect and empathy. How I wish I had such a book when I was in college and majored in Education decades ago.
This 265-page book, with 33 pages of appendices, notes and an impressive bibliography, is filled with helpful information for parents and especially teachers, who may have noticed since the advent of the Internet and less face-to-face communication, that young persons’ empathy meters need a boost, requiring more actual exercises and actions that children can learn to upgrade their own empathy level.
The author, Lynne Azarchi, is the executive director of Kidsbridge Tolerance Center outside of Trenton, NJ. As About the Author notes, this nonprofit organization is “dedicated to fostering bullying prevention, diversity appreciation, empathy, and empowerment for youth.” Quite a heavy roster to tackle, but if her book is any indication of her commitment, passion, and dedication to providing the empathy advantage, as her title says, then this game changer for the already thousands of children that have attended the center can become a wonderful tool for the parents and teachers who use it.
The 21 chapters in the book cover the science and biology behind empathy, parent tips, and teaching children at home and at school, from infancy through high school and college. One critical chapter, Chapter 12, tackles the importance of empathy to prevent bullying, a main focus at the center. Often referring to her own challenges with her children, Lynne tackles such related topics as self-compassion, active listening, social media issues and empathy, the importance of pets as role models for learning empathy, and much, much more. The goal is to have children feel what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes and experience compassion and empathy for their experiences.
The range of topics; the amount of research in the pages; the helpful charts, lists and photos*; plus the passion of Lynne’s commitment to teaching empathy are palpable….and contagious.. Now I want to learn how to practice more compassion, respect and kindness, all of which Lynne covers in her book.
With the help of Larry Hanover, a skilled writer, Lynne Azarchi has produced a book worthy of your attention, whether you are a teacher, a parent, or just a person who likes children and can use the techniques and ideas in this book to enhance your ability to listen to children and develop your own brand of compassion and empathy.
The Empathy Advantage is published by Rowman & Littlefield publishers and costs $30. A paperback version is in the works. Get your own copy to ramp up your empathy factor!
*Below is just one simple, yet effective photo in the book. As the author notes with the photo:
“At the Kidsbridge Tolerance Center, we define empathy as walking in another person’s shoes because this is a very easy concept to understand, especially for kids.”