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What Scientific Research Tells Us About Roots of Empathy

Here is what some of the researchers and scientists have said at our Roots of Empathy events over the years. Their messages are in tune with these times – from what kids need to be resilient, what sleeping does for children’s emotional well-being, what it means to be empathic, and how much pressure parents put on themselves.


What resilience is and what it isn’t – 9 things children need

Dr. Michael Ungar spoke at our 2017 Roots of Empathy Research Symposium and challenged our traditional views of resilience. He’s the Founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre and the Canada Research Chair in Child, Family & Community Resilience at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Here, Dr. Ungar gives us nine things that all children need to become resilient. The full talk is also available.

The five types of empathy

At our 2017 Research Symposium, Dr. Dan Siegel spoke about five types of empathy that are taught in a Roots of Empathy classroom. Dr. Siegel is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is also the Founding Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA.

Sleep on it

Dr. Rebecca Spencer, a neuroscientist who leads the Somneurolab at the University of Mass – Amherst, spoke at our 2019 Symposium on why children need sleep for more than you think. Sleep, including essential naps, helps children not only with their memory function but also processing their emotions. Her research proves the truth of the adage: it’s always better to sleep on it. It’s a message we’re all needing during COVID-19.

The carpenter and the gardener

Author and psychologist Alison Gopnik challenges perceptions of parenting in this 2016 Speaker Series talk. She argues that child care has transformed into an obsessive, controlling, and goal-oriented labour, intended to create a particular kind of child. Caring for children is not a matter of shaping them. Children are designed to be messy, unpredictable, playful, imaginative, and very different from their parents and each other. The variability of childhood lets them innovate, create, and survive an unpredictable world.