In today’s political climate, it seems we are more divided than ever. Our differences of opinion can lead to heated, and sometimes hurtful, interactions in person and online. While grown-ups the world over struggle to find ways to engage in civil discourse, or conversation intended to enhance understanding, educators and parents alike are searching for ways to help foster empathy and civility in children. At Mind Yeti, we believe mindfulness practice can play a role in helping develop and reinforce those skills.
Just like mindfulness, the practice of civil discourse is rooted in a deep sense of empathy.
While mindfulness can often feel like an independent practice, research shows that regular practice can help individuals discover deeper empathy for and connection to themselves and their community. That connection — that sense of empathy and compassion — creates an awareness of our connection to others that motivates us to behave in compassionate ways. This can motivate both kids and adults to interact more respectfully and civilly with one another.
Just like mindfulness, civil discourse requires an ability to keep calm in the face of challenges.
Mindfulness is a practice that teaches us to create and maintain a sense of calm regardless of which thoughts, feelings, and sensations we’re experiencing. This ability to keep calm can be invaluable when it comes to participating in civil discourse. Approaching difficult, heated discussions with a sense of calm helps both parties come to an understanding easily and more quickly.
Just like mindfulness, civil discourse starts with self-awareness.
Mindfulness practice can help kids recognize, become aware of, and reflect on the thoughts, feelings and sensations that can make civility hard. But children need you to lead the way. When you share mindfulness with them — as a parent or an educator — you become the guide. Your kids trust you to model self-awareness and mindfulness and maintain safe space. If you want to become a facilitator of civil discourse, you’ll have to start with a deep understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses as a communicator and collaborator. This helpful guide from Facing History and Ourselves has some great tips on how, starting with yourself, you can begin to create more civility among young people.
A Mindful Playlist to #ReviveCivility
Looking to foster more civil discourse in kids? Try some of these Mind Yeti sessions with your classroom or at home to build empathy, create safe space, and develop self-awareness.
You can learn more about fostering civil discourse by participating in Committee for Children’s #ReviveCivility campaign. Visit the Committee For Children blog for more resources.