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Empathy and the GT Child

 

Empathy is an expression of emotional well-being which speaks to the social-emotional needs of gifted children. The definition of empathy has evolved over centuries from ‘feeling another’s emotions’ to being viewed as a ‘complex construct’. In “The Caring Child”, Christine shares 4 distinct processes – emotional sharing, emotional mimicry, mental imagining of another’s emotions and differentiating self and others.

Who is iGen and how do they differ from previous generations? The ‘iGen’ is the generation after Millennials – kids who began graduating from high school in 2013. They are the first ones to grow up with Smartphones. They are more vulnerable; isolated and lacking in social skills; and vastly unprepared for the responsibilities of adulthood. The iGen is super connected but unable to engage in ‘irl’ (in real life) experiences. It is the premise for a real-life dystopian future.

For gifted children, the very early years provide an opportunity to nurture empathy by teaching mindfulness and developing an ‘emotional vocabulary’. Young gifted children can be encouraged to become self-aware with an understanding of how they ‘fit’ in the world through stories and play experiences with others. They should have opportunities to express kindness in social settings as reflected in the actions of adults around them.

Empathy is a social skill that is developed through human interaction. When young gifted children experience positive relationships based on their ability to express empathy, their ability to face adversity, trauma, and pain (aka resilience) is enhanced.

The educational needs of iGen have radically changed the way schools look at how to teach this generation. Past pedagogical approaches do not suffice today. Teachers (educators, parents, adults) must be flexible, responsive to student voice, and be willing to embed SEL (social-emotional learning) into the curriculum. Education for the iGen needs to be individualized and involve the measured use of technology that empowers learning.

What are some strategies parents can use to build social-emotional learning skills? In ‘The Caring Child’, Christine delineates social-emotional learning skills as cognitive, social/relational, emotional, character and mindsets. Building social-emotional learning skills involve simple strategies sometimes overlooked by parents of gifted children as being ‘too simple’. Cognitive skills can be built through the use of puzzles, language-based games, or word searches. Bibliotherapy and cinematherapy help develop emotional skills. Role playing/improv improve social skills. A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

 Lisa Conrad About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

The Caring Child: Raising Empathetic and Emotionally Intelligent Children (Prufrock)

Teaching Empathy and Embracing Intensity

15 Ways to Help Kids Develop Empathy

The Neuroscience of Empathy, Compassion, and Self-Compassion (Amazon)

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy & Completely Unprepared for Adulthood & What That Means for the Rest of Us (Amazon)

The Social Neuroscience of Empathy (pdf)

Empathy and Compassion

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope with Explosive Feelings (Prufrock)

I’m Not Just Gifted: Social-Emotional Curriculum for Guiding Gifted Children (Prufrock)

The Neural Pathways, Development and Functions of Empathy (pdf)

Developing Compassionate Empathy in Gifted Children

“I feel your pain”: Empathy and the Gifted Child (.docx)

Teaching Empathy: Strategies for Building Emotional Intelligence in Today’s Students (Prufrock October 2019)

Try Something New With Your Kids: Focus on the 3 C’s

Mind Matters Podcast Episode 36: Empathy with Intensity – Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children

Cybraryman’s SEL Pages and More

Cybraryman’s Empathy Page

Disclaimer: Some resources include affiliate links.

Image courtesy of Dreamstime (Free photo 85156667 ©creativecommonsstockphotos (CC0))

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

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