The thoughtful director of New York City’s Sara Curry Preschool and author of The Children’s Bill of Emotional Rights, Eileen Johnson has developed a philosophy of children’s emotional development. Over breakfast in the East Village, we asked her about bullying, fostering empathy, and managing expectations.
What are some other ways to foster empathy?
EJ: Often parents will say to children, “How would YOU like it if someone did that to YOU?” But that doesn’t work. Young children don’t think that way. You need to model empathy. If your child gets hurt, you focus on that: “Oh, you got hurt!” It may not be a big deal to us, but it’s a big deal to her. It’s good to linger on this trauma rather than to rush to say, “You’ll get over it.” That’s not what people need.