Part three of my In Fide article series championing the work Whitefriars College is doing with The Resilience Project is all about Empathy and Kindness.
Empathy is our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others to feel and see what they do. We practise this through being kind and compassionate towards other people.
When dealing with adolescents, particularly adolescent young men, empathy is a very challenging quality to develop. The frontal lobe in adolescent males, responsible for impulse control, judgement and empathy, does not develop fully until much later in life. Therefore, thinking of how other people might be feeling is often not a natural response for a young male. However, this does not mean we can’t help our students practice it and get better at it because the benefits for both the individual and others around them are incredible. This is one of the main reasons that social emotional learning is so important and why we at Whitefriars have partnered with The Resilience Project.
Brain imaging data shows that being kind to others registers in the brain as more like eating chocolate than like fulfilling an obligation to do what’s right (e.g., eating brussel sprouts)! Research shows that practising empathy, such as performing acts of kindness, taps into our brain’s ‘mirror neurons’, builds compassion and our behaviour becomes more social, and community based.
View Part 3 of the series here – Empathy https://theresilienceproject.com.au/parent-and-carer-hub-hugh/
Here’s an activity to practise empathy and kindness:
- Reflect on someone in your life who could benefit from an act of kindness today. It could be a friend who would love some affirmation about their work, your pet who deserves an extra treat, or a family member who would love a phone call or text message.
- Make a plan for who you are going to show an act of kindness to, and what you are going to do.
- If you want to add accountability to your plan, share it with someone else and encourage them to do the same thing.
- Follow up with each other in a few days’ time, to ask how it went!
Sources: Psychology Today, UC Berkeley, Greater Good Science
For mental health resources and support information, visit The Resilience Project’s Support Page.