Do you ever wake up, look at the news on your phone, and wish you could go back to bed? You're not the only one. It may seem hopeless but there is one obvious thing we can do to create less violence in the world. That is to create more empathy starting at ground zero.
Hello to all the parents, teachers, grandparents, early childhood educators, Head Start employees, and all other very important caregivers. We need you more than ever to step up and work together to create a world with less hate and violence and you have the power to do it. After all, It is true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
After spending the last 43 years studying and teaching empathy, I know for sure that it's not only possible but easier than most people think. And It's more important now than ever to be intentional about it.
And, since around 80% of a child's brain connections are formed before the age of 3, it’s obvious when to start. So each week I’m sending you, the people who really count, a 2-3 minute baby step towards true empathy and anti-bias education that you can use and share with others.
This week I’m revealing one nasty habit to be avoided that many of us including myself can be guilty of without even noticing.
The Nasty Habit To Avoid to Create More Empathy?
Lumping. Lumping is when a whole group of people gets put in one convenient category. This can be really annoying. It makes the lumper look less than intelligent and in many cases, it can be downright hateful, racist, sexist, ageist, and biased in many, many other ways.
Here are some common examples to think about:
Those 3rd graders in the next room are so noisy, I can’t even do my math!
College students are rowdy and loud.
Librarians are introverts.
Children are rude.
Gay men are great decorators.
Taxi drivers drive poorly and cause danger.
Overweight people are a problem to society.
Asians are good at math and science.
Young Black men are good at basketball.
Latinos are lazy.
Mormons share wives.
Unitarian Universalist women are witches.
Native American Indians love their alcohol.
Southerners are racist.
Black people abuse welfare.
How many of the above statements are true? Zero. How many times have you heard people say them? I don’t know about you but I’ve heard or read all of the above at one time or another.
The problem with lumping is that it doesn't look at people as individuals, but lumps them in a category that makes each statement untrue for many, many people. That can be really hurtful if you happen to be one of those people and you know it’s not true of you.
Why do people talk like this? I think it’s because it’s just easier than looking at each person as an individual. People are complex. This is also what makes them interesting. It also may be because lumping relieves the lumper of any guilt or jealousy they may be experiencing.
Here are a few alternatives to lumping. You can think of more yourself.
I can’t concentrate on my math with the noise coming from next door. What can we do about that?
I need to find a good decorator. Know anyone?
That driver scared me. I’m going to slow down and get away from them.
Rosa Parks is my hero because she stood up for her own civil rights.
These types of assertive statements are also called "I messages" and they work really well when there’s a problem to work on. It’s important to convey a good "I message" to take responsibility for your own feelings and work to resolve them instead of blaming someone else which is often easier and more convenient to do.
I hope you find this helpful! Next week I’m focussing on a very helpful attitude that we can all develop and hone. It has something to do with diverse family values so I hope you find the time in your busy, busy schedule to open it up and read it.
In the meantime, If you want to make sure not to miss it, join our community if you haven’t already. The article will be delivered effortlessly to your inbox next Friday or Saturday and you’ll immediately get a free copy of my 22-page slideshow called “How To Get Your Kids To Listen Without Yelling or Time-Outs”
Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.