Unselfie: A Book Review

My wife was able to hear Michele Borba, the author of Unselfie, at a school counselor conference. Since I also work with children and adolescents, I thought I’d check out the book as well. Today I’ll be sharing some of what I learned with you about kids and emotional intelligence.

Unselfie was written as a guide for adults to empower kids to be empathetic in an increasingly competitive and individualistic world.

Research supports that empathy is declining among youth while narcissism is increasing; for example, one poll found a 40% decrease in empathy and a 50% increase in narcissism among participants.

With data like that, it’s no wonder that we’re seeing a rise in school bullying.

1/5 middle schoolers surveyed had experienced suicidal ideation as a result of bullying by their peers.

I’m sure you can agree that the aforementioned findings are unsettling. Michele Borba reminds us that adults are responsible for helping children and teens to build their emotional intelligence and emotional regulation.

But how can we help?

  • Teach young people about emotions and provide avenues for them to discuss their experiences.
    • Psychotherapy is a great resource for parents needing support with this.
  • Boys especially need to be taught appropriate emotional vocabulary, as a masculine culture often puts them at a disadvantage compared to their female counterparts.
  • Adults can model empathy by encouraging young folx to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
    • Give kids opportunities to help others. This is a great way to show them that empathy can impact change.
  • Teach kids mindfulness and meditation.
    • One technique my therapist taught me was the candles and flowers approach for mindful breathing. Kids can use two fingers to imagine inhaling a flower (deep breathing) and then exhale to blow out an imaginary candle (visualization).
  • Because 80% of bullying happens when there are no adults present, teach kids to have zero tolerance for bullying.
    • Research shows that bullying stops within 10 seconds when a peer intervenes (57% of the time).
    • Eliminate the “snitch code”, teach kids to console the victim, and teach them to seek adult intervention.

You can find this book here.

For more on child and adolescent mental health, click here.

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One thought on “Unselfie: A Book Review”

  1. Ellie says:

    Such an important post to get out there. It is vital that we make sure young people are emotion aware and help them recognize the importance of mental health as well.

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