Generation We

For all the challenges facing today’s children, there are also endless opportunities to nurture their minds, bodies and spirits in naturally healthy ways.

Generation We
Pin it Dominick Guillemot

3. Encourage compassion According to a University of Michigan study presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in 2010, empathy is not the strongest subject for the most recent crops of college students. “Many people see this group of students—sometimes called ‘Generation Me’—as one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history,” says researcher Sara Konrath, who notes that the biggest drop in empathy was among students graduating college after the year 2000. “College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait,” she adds. What can we do to reverse this trend in future generations? Plan a “day of service” either monthly or weekly, depending on how much time you have available, suggests Los Angeles- and Nashville, Tenn.-based celebrity nanny Barbara Rodriguez, author of The Organic Nanny’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids: How to Create a Natural Diet and Lifestyle For Your Child (Da Capo Press). Among her suggestions: Visit a nursing home, volunteer at a soup kitchen or an animal shelter, or have your child help pick out gifts for a toy drive during the holidays. Ungar also notes that children should be taught to help their peers: “Encourage them to be more inclusive of those who are excluded from activities and games in their classroom—and ask them how they think their actions affect other people,” he says. You should also be honest with your children about all the people you know, and the challenges—such as disabilities—they face, Ungar says. “Break down stereotypes of race, gender and sexual orientation by discussing differences positively,” he adds. “And model compassion by making no judgments when your child asks for help with a situation that embarrasses him or her.”