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Where Is The Love? 5 Ways To Foster Empathy In Our Children

With the current situation not just in Pakistan, but rather all over the world, perhaps the most pressing issue at the moment is why there is so much intolerance in the world.

Everyday we hear news upon news of humans hurting other humans and we can’t help but think of that oh so relevant Black Eyed Peas song from 2004.

The lyrics go,

People killin’ people dyin’
Children hurtin’, I hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preachin’?
Would you turn the other cheek again?
Mama, mama, mama, tell us what the hell is goin’ on
Can’t we all just get along?
Father, father, father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me
(Where’s the love)

The song was not the first in history to highlight social injustices that take place in society merely on the basis of class, gender or creed and it seems like that after 15 whole years, it won’t be the last one either. In Pakistan alone, whether it is gender based violence, religious extremism or just intolerance in general, this seems to have become the norm.

Source; Dribble

Since it is currently the month of Ramazan, it would do us all some good to look at the current archaic and unfair law that prohibits the sale or purchase of food items during the day. If our government wishes to follow the sunnah of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) and the laws of Madinah, does it not make sense to ensure that the rights of minorities, the sick, the disabled or just of those who are unable to fast are well looked after?

After all, the white in our national flag still stands for the place minorities hold as citizens and as equals, right? The religion is not so unforgiving and un-moving, so then why are we? Besides intolerance in religious matters, we also tend to resort to violence as the first option as a source of conflict resolution and this is wrong!

As any great civilization and nation can testify for, if you want to leave a lasting impression and foster change, the children of a nation are the ones that need most care and attention to ensure that they grow up with the right kind of values and ideas of empathy, tolerance and peace.

We need to teach our children through real life lessons, via books and movies and even through positive curriculum in schools and not the hate mongering stereotypes/prejudices we sometimes expose them to.

Here are five excellent methods of inculcating these values and ideals within the minds of our future generations;

Children personify and idolize parental figures or elder siblings and therefore emulate their behaviors and actions. If they witness the people in their lives showcasing empathy as an important trait, they are more likely to adopt it.

It is always important to appreciate and praise good behaviour and actions as this conditions the child to repeat this action for more rewards in the future. However, it is also important to teach a child that knowing you’ve done something good for others should be a reward in itself.

Exposure to people and communities different from your own is always a good way for the child to realize that other people might be different but are not less deserving of respect and love.

Focus on positive reinforcement and learning via stories that teach moral lessons and urge the child to think about consequences and solutions to intolerant situations and problems.

Teach your child to take a stand for themselves and for others. This will help mobilize your child and not accept injustice for anyone under any circumstance.

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