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On Teaching Empathy

3 Jul

“It’s clear we need to cultivate empathy in all children,

but gender stereotypes — often reinforced in playrooms —

risk leaving boys, in particular, with a social deficit.”


*photo from the article*

I read an article last night about teaching empathy to children. (Read: Why It’s Imperative to Teach Empathy to Boys.) I couldn’t agree more to every line mentioned. Hence, I shared the article in all my social networking sites. I don’t care if my virtual friends find it annoying that they have read the same FB status on my tweets. (Plural form because I had to post the same thing on Twitter in chunks haha) I just want the article to reach as many people as I can because in our world today, all of us can and should care a little more.

According to Mr. Webster, empathy is “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” It is the ability to feel what the other one is feeling, putting one’s self in the situation of the other.

But why is it important?

“First, empathy breeds courage. In a recent study of nearly 900 youth, ages 11-13, Nicola Abbott and Lindsey Cameron’s, psychology researchers at University of Kent, found that participants with higher levels of empathy were more likely to engage in “assertive bystander behavior.” In other words, they were willing to stand up to a bully on behalf of someone outside their peer group. This kind of courage can be life changing for a victim of bullying and prevent the damaging effects of social isolation and exclusion that often lead to anxiety and depression.”

Showing empathy goes beyond words of comfort or encouragement. Empathy drives you into action.

“Empathy also yields happiness. People with empathy have stronger interpersonal connections and are more eager to collaborate, effectively negotiate, demonstrate compassion, and offer support. They’re team players, and employers recognize this.”

We live every day interacting with different people. Some people have a good day, while some have a bad one. Through empathy, we take verbal and non-verbal cues when we deal with them. Showing empathy, or the lack of it, can make or break someone’s day. We prefer the former, of course. Sometimes, simple gestures like an “it’ll be okay” and a tap on the back go a long way.

“Empathy drives thoughtful problem solving. Emphatic problem solvers put themselves in others’ shoes in a way that allows them to design life-saving baby warmers, easily collapsible baby strollers, and energy-saving car sharing services. In addition, they’re often willing to work with others to solve persistent and, at times, larger problems. Rather than hoarding their knowledge and expertise, they open themselves up to what Greg Satell calls cognitive collaboration, in order to serve patients, clients, students, and even their respective fields, more effectively.”

I don’t think I need to further explain this. Just think “no man is an island,” “two heads are better than one,” and all other clichés. Haha!

Now that we have established the importance of empathy, a concern was brought up in the article. Empathy can be seen taught in girls, but not so much in boys. Gender stereotypes limit the way boys grasp empathy.


When boys cry, play with dolls like they are babies, or does pretend play in the kitchen, we label them as weak, soft or gay. Chores and taking care of people at home are tasks not just for women, and it is not connected with sexual orientation and gender identity. These are tasks a family living in a household do together. We all do our share, no matter how little… and we start this in our own homes, by teaching empathy to our sons, our brothers, our male cousins, our nephews, or the sons of our neighbors. When boys grow up into men, we should have instilled empathy in them. We don’t want a workmate, a boss or worse, a president to be a douche. Right?

There is no gene for empathy so we should all do our share in nurturing both boys and girls develop this learned behavior. Empathy is not an easy thing to grasp for children. Developmentally, children are egoistic, but do we stop there? Through modeling, we make it easier for them to understand what and how empathy is done. As I’ve said, all of us can care a little more, not by mere words, but by our actions as well.


P. S. A part of me is thinking that my being gay has been reaffirmed. For me, empathy is an important value which is lacking in men around me. If there were somehow more caring, I may have been bi! Haha I was “born this way,” but my reflections after reading this article just emphasized my preference all the more. 😉 Haha



Disney’s Frozen: Redefining “Princess” :)

23 Jan

It’s about time to redefine princess and the princess syndrome.

7 Moments That Made ‘Frozen’ the Most Progressive Disney Movie Ever

I especially love #5. I watched it again just to see this❤

Good job, Disney!

Also, see my other posts on Frozen:

Disney’s Frozen: Meet the Characters (Part 1)

Disney’s Frozen: Artsy Smartsy (Part 2)

Disney’s Frozen: From My Lens (Part 3)

Disney’s Frozen: From My Lens (Part 3)

4 Dec

SPOILER ALERT. But read along if you want to be convinced why Frozen is worth watching! 

Part 3 🙂

Disney’s Frozen:

From the Lens of a Lesbian Preschool Teacher

I loved Frozen not just because of the characters (Part 1), the awesome soundtrack and the activities (Part 2), but also because it deviated from the usual Disney princess movies.

It’s different and empowering.

Every movie has a villain, and similar to Shrek, the charming Prince Hans was the bad guy here. Being the thirteenth in line, he just decided that he will marry the second princess of Arendelle and will kill the Snow Queen to be king in the end. Like all other Disney happily-ever-afters, he did not succeed with his plan.


I liked the fact that it’s not the typical prince and princess, falling in love at first sight and then voila, wedding bells follow. The movie showed how a princess have been waiting for her prince charming for so long, but only got disappointed in the end. That’s reality, little girls. Prince charming is fiction. Love at first sight isn’t really “love” right away. I’m not saying it cannot be real love eventually, but the onset? That’s hormones. haha And please, marriage right away? That’s not crazy, that’s S-T-U-P-… Okay, I shall stop. A post on commitment should be separate. haha

anna ice

Like the typical princess movies, they mentioned that what can save Princess Anna from being frozen to death was “an act of true love.” Of course, they all thought that act was a kiss. WRONG. They thought it was Prince Hans. WRONGG. Then, of course, Kristoff was the next guy in line. WRONGGG.

I, myself, thought it was Kristoff too. But here’s my favorite twist of all…  instead of the hopeless romantic Princess Anna running to Kristoff for a kiss to save his life, what she did was run to save Princess Elsa from being killed by Prince Hans. See, kiddos, that right there is the act of true love.

Not a kiss, not a man.

anna elsa hug

True love, in the simplest term that I can think of now, is putting the needs of others before your own.  Not a kiss. Instead of running for that kiss to save her, Princess Anna risked her life to save her beloved sister. That’s true love.

True love has so many kinds, and can be expressed in so many ways, not just romantic. And true love knows no gender or label too.  That’s true love. Princess Anna did not run for a man. She ran towards her sister.

telescope kids

Dear boys, there’s no single road to true love and happiness. Not just through a kiss (and  more), and not just with a woman. I hope this Disney movie will change your views of other people, and perhaps of yourself too.

Dear girls, again, there’s no single road to true love and happiness. Not just through a kiss, and not just with a man. I hope this Disney movie will empower you, and change your view about yourself. You’re not made to wait for a prince charming. No to princess syndrome, please.

Dear adults, children will not be able to realize all these thoughts on their own. Let’s try to do our share in processing things with them. Thanks in advance! In case you already did, hurray! 🙂

Kthanksbye. :p

Disney’s Frozen: Artsy Smartsy (Part 2)

4 Dec

SPOILER ALERT. But read along if you want to be convinced why Frozen is worth watching! 

Part 2 🙂

Disney’s Frozen:

Art Activities

I love Frozen because of the awesome soundtrack, both lyrics and melody wise. If you’ve read Part 1, I think that’s a bit obvious since I’ve been mentioning the songs there. I downloaded the songs and have been playing it the whole day in class while they were doing the Olaf snowman and the Princess Elsa snowflakes activities. :p


 Olaf Snowman

Most children did Olaf the conventional way, but a few of them made it all too messed up and funny! :p

 Elsa the Snow Queen

 Princess Elsa’s Snowflakes

The pdf file of this has a template provided. I chose to do it on white paper so my children can freely design the snowflakes in whatever way they like. Just remind the children to be careful not to cut across the triangle.

Actual pictures to follow. :p

But it’s not only the songs and the artworks that I loved. Part 3.

Disney’s Frozen: Meet the Characters (Part 1)

4 Dec

SPOILER ALERT. But read along if you want to be convinced why Frozen is worth watching! 

Part 1 🙂

Disney’s Frozen:

Meet the Characters

I fell in love with Frozen, Disney’s newest princess movie released last Thanksgiving, and in time for the Christmas season. It was loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen‘s fairy tale, The Snow Queen. This version tells the story of Princess Elsa and Princess Anna of Arendelle, a kingdom that suffered an extreme winter condition when Princess Elsa’s power got out of hand.

Frozen Cast

Princess Elsa was born with icy powers that she found hard to control, hence isolated from everyone else including her younger sister. On her coronation, an incident happened causing her to turn her kingdom into ice. She ran away up in the mountains thinking that can fix things. I loved her sparkly blue dress when she finally embraced her being Snow Queen. I also loved her rendition of the song “Let It Go”, especially in that scene where she finally stopped hiding her magic and let go of the cloak, “The cold never bothered me anyway.” 😉


Princess Anna was her fearless sister who longs for that sisterly love since their separation when they were young. She went after Princess Elsa to convince her to go back to Arendelle and fix the almost frozen city. But wait, she’s not just longing for sisterly love. Like the common princess movies, she can’t wait to fall in love with Prince Charming.  Try listening to the song “Love is an Open Door” which she sang with Prince Hans. It’s such a feel good love song. :> And such a slap in the face too when you see the twist in the end </3 haha

Princess Anna

There was Kristoff, a man raised by trolls who helped Princess Anna find her sister. I loved him in the song “Fixer Upper” because as a line in the song goes “his isolation is confirmation of his desperation for a human hug.” Aww, such feels. He redefined prince charming, by the way. You can say he’s like Aladdin who wasn’t a prince, but this one’s without magic. 😉


Sven, is the ever loyal friend and reindeer of Kristoff.  He doesn’t talk but he’s adorable because he makes a point as Kristoff’s conscience, even just with the snorts he makes. :p


A Disney princess movie isn’t legit without a prince charming. There was Prince Hans of Southern Isles. He has twelve older brothers, making him that far from the throne. Remember the “Love is an Open Door” song I mentioned? He was Princess Anna’s love at first sight, and marriage by the next blink. Haha!

Anna and Hans

Last but not the least, there’s Olaf and he likes warm hugs. He was the snowman who sprung from Princess Elsa’s magic. He was made of snow, but he’s warm and friendly. Actually, he was in love with the idea of summer. When he sang “In Summer”, he was imagining what it’s like to bask under the sun.

Olof summer

He only had an idea of what summer really meant when he lit up the fireplace to help Princess Anna keep warm. Indeed, “Some people are worth melting for.” Lucky enough, at the end of the movie, Princess Elsa had a special gift just for him. 😉


Now, enough with the characters.

How did I really see the movie? Read on the Part 2 and Part 3. 🙂

She is Peter Pan

28 Nov

Dear Mandy,

I can’t help but feel giddy every time I see signs that you might be a lesbian.

I remember some butch friends of mine telling me they play rough and already had their first girl crush back in preschool. Could this be something similar?

There are some days you say you’re a girl. There are days when you claim you’re a boy.

Today, you told everyone you are Peter Pan.

peter pan girl

I wanted to extend the conversation. I wanted to share that I love Peter Pan too. I wanted to say that I believe in fairies and in pixie dusts, and that one day, I want to fly to that second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.

I felt giddy, but now I’m sad.

I’m sad because we got stuck. We got stuck with the teasing and the laughing.

I know you often get teased. People around you insist you’re a girl, that you’re Wendy or Tinker Bell. They force you to join Winx Club, and not the Lost Boys. I can see that you cry a lot because of the teasing from classmates and the confusion within.

Your fondness for boyish things, your rough movements, and your friendliness towards one particular girl are parts of that self discovery. Sadly, the confusion and teasing too.

How I wish I can be of help with that self discovery. How I wish that even when you’re in your teens, I’m still around to help you with whatever. But as of now, for this school year, I can only do these… that I will be patient during days when you can’t handle the frustrations, and that I will teach these other children around you to not tease you about the way you think and feel about yourself.

Be strong, and always be yourself, kiddo! You’re wonderful!


Teacher Ayee

P.S. By the way, I have a favor. Please try not to hate your classmates. It’s not their fault that they were raised with in homes were blue are for boys and pink are for girls. Again, I’ll do my best to let them see that the world isn’t just blue and pink… that it’s a rainbow world for all of us.

rainbow world

“Make a Plan” Plan

11 Nov

The “Make a Plan” Plan.

Agreements are never one way. Yes, this is applicable even with children. It doesn’t mean that you’re older, you’re the boss. It doesn’t mean that they’re younger, you’ll baby them and give in to their whims.

Here are 5 Steps in making a plan in order to deal with issues involving children.

Step 1: Get together.


Step 2: Describe the problem.


Step 3: Brainstorm solutions


Step 4: Write it down


Step 5: Revise the plan


Click on the  link above and read on the article to understand this better.

This problem solving strategy works in class, and even in your own homes. 🙂