Learning to Be Kind and Understand Differences – Empathy Skills for Kids with AD/HD

According to authors, Judith M. Glasser, PhD, and Jill Menkes Kushner, MA:

“Some children act as though they have no interest – or they may say they don’t care what other people think or feel. For children with AD/HD, learning the skills that are necessary to treat others with empathy and kindness requires some of the very skills with which they have the most difficulty…”

The skills Glasser and Kushner address in their book include children’s ability to switch activities, stop what they are doing, pay attention to how they feel and think, turn their attention to how another might see things, remember both perspectives, and organize a response. Itis written for children aged 8-12 years to work through interactively with an adult. Each chapter teaches a foundational skill practiced through reflective exercises, recording experiences through words, drawings, and games. Reading it, I was reminded that even adults can need help to recognize the nuances of mixed feelings, and to understand how our thoughts shape our feelings and determine our actions.

 “Feeling empathy for other people can be hard for everyone. Often when we need it most is when we are upset. When we get upset, the first thing we need to do is to calm down.”

As children learn how to stop and calm, they can switch to looking for clues like facial expressions or actions to imagine what others might be thinking and feeling. Often the new perspective changes their own thoughts, and they begin to feel differently, the beginning of empathy. With more practice and confidence, they begin to problem-solve and collaborate.

I would recommend this read for book-loving families who want to take this journey with their children.  It is also a great review for school age educators supporting social and emotional skill development and for the happy maintenance of our own inner-child.

 Carolyn Lavigne, RECE
Resource Consultant, CISS