There is no doubt that in this era of the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a huge amount of uncertainty and with that some anxiety. You may be feeling some anxiety yourself and perhaps your children are too. Well, the antidote to stress is empathy and our guest today has many, many ideas about how you can build empathy in your children.

Dr. Michele Borba is an educational psychologist and former classroom teacher who is recognised globally as a parenting, bullying and character expert whose aim is to strengthen children’s empathy and resilience, and break the cycle of youth violence. She is an in-demand speaker who has delivered keynotes and workshops to over 1,000,000 participants and written 24 books translated into 14 languages as well as appearing frequently in broadcast and print media.  We’ll put a list of Dr Borba’s books in our show notes rather than list them all here but the one that introduced me to her work, her latest, is Unselfie, Why empathetic kids succeed in our all about me world. I loved that this work is firmly grounded in science but also has many, many practical ideas about how parents can raise kids to be empathetic. Dr Borba has been writing another book during lockdown Thrivers, the surprising reasons why some kids struggle and others shine. I can’t wait to read it She is also a parent of 3 now adult sons.

Listen to this episode with Dr Michele if you want to learn:

  • About the 3 factors present in a person’s upbringing that lead to a person developing altruism
  • How an 8 month old baby can teach children a thing or two about empathy.
  • About today’s empathy deficit and how that has arisen. Yes, technology does play a part. But there are a number of reasons including the way we parent. Ouch!
  • About the extraordinary outcomes when parents take active steps to teach children empathy and kindness
  • That empathy is not just an innate quality that we are either born with or not, but it is something that can be cultivated even from an incredibly young age
  • How empathy can be the antidote to stress, both your children’s and your own and how learning emotional regulation can help in times of uncertainty
  • About how empathy is made up of habits. You can encourage emotional literacy and help your child develop a moral identity. Family mission statements can help a child to define themselves as a caring person. So can praise provided it is used to identify moments of caring in your child’s behaviour, since what we notice in our children is the behaviour we prioritise
  • How parents can encourage children to understand others’ perspectives through role play, theatre, film and literature. Encouraging children to read widely through family reading rituals will help them develop empathy
  • How some aspects of conventional discipline methods (yelling, time out, spanking) get in the way of a child developing empathy. (For more detail see our positive discipline module in our six week course)

And her top tip for raising children to be kind and tolerant adults who will create a better future for us all. It’s a very simple idea. And her idea for encouraging hope in difficult times is inspiring.

If you want to get in touch with Dr Michele check out the links below:



For a full list of Michele’s books see and look out for her new book next year ‘Thrivers’

Twitter: @michelborba

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