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Letters: How to raise empathetic children

September 07, 2013

Re "Fostering compassion in children," Opinion, Sept. 2

About three decades ago, some educators and psychologists sold the public on the ridiculous notion that schools should give students self-esteem. Participation trophies were handed out. Children grew up with the false notion that each of them was the center of the universe.

Result: two generations of narcissistic, maladjusted twenty- and thirtysomethings, drifting in the wind because they discovered they are not special or entitled. Now, Arlie Hochschild suggests that schools encourage empathy. Really? It's too late by the time the kids enter kindergarten or first grade.

It's the role of parents to help their children develop empathy. But first, parents have to be there — with regular, consistent, face-to-face interaction with their infants and toddlers. This is not school reform; it is returning parenting to its necessary role in developing healthy children.

Stephany Yablow

North Hollywood

Reforming children, who will be adults, by teaching empathy is a worthy idea. But there is a quicker, proven way to control character: Teach manners. Drill manners. Instill manners.

Most of the truly non-compassionate will always have their impulses, but they might at least try to conform while the rest of us will make living together much more civilized. Manners maketh man.

Linda Hepner

Los Angeles

How can we expect to foster compassion in children when they are taught from a very early age that it is acceptable to eat the flesh of defenseless animals? Children will learn compassion for members of our species when they are taught true compassion for all species.

Sandra L. Warf

Seal Beach

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