Bestselling author Michele Borba offers a 9-step program to help parents cultivate empathy in children, from birth to young adulthood—and explains why developing a healthy sense of empathy is a key predictor of which kids will thrive and succeed in the future.
Is the Selfie Syndrome Undermining Our Kids’ Future?
Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—which goes hand-in-hand with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, a lack of empathy hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate, and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy.
In UnSelfie Dr. Borba pinpoints the forces causing the empathy crisis and shares a revolutionary, researched-based, 9-step plan for reversing it. Readers will learn:
-Why discipline approaches like spanking, yelling, and even time-out can squelch empathy
-How lavish praise inflates kids’ egos and keeps them locked in “selfie” mode
-Why reading makes kids smarter and kinder
-How to help kids be Upstanders—not bystanders—in the face of bullying
-Why self-control is a better predictor of wealth, health, and happiness than grades or IQ
-Why the right mix of structured extracurricular activities and free play is key for teaching collaboration
-How to ignite a Kindness Revolution in your kids and community
The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured. Dr. Borba offers a framework for parenting that yields the results we all want: successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient. UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want to kids shift their focus from I, me, and mine…to we, us, and ours.
About the Author
Michele Borba, EdD, is an internationally renowned educational psychologist and an expert in parenting, bullying, and character development. One of the foremost authorities on childhood development in the country, she is a regular NBC contributor who appears regularly on Today and has been featured as an expert on Dateline, The View, Dr. Phil, NBC Nightly News, Fox & Friends, Dr. Oz, and The Early Show, among many others. She lives in Palm Springs, California, with her husband, and she is the mother of three grown sons.
Praise for Michele Borba:
“[The] go-to parent expert.”
“The most trusted parenting expert in America.”
— Dr. Drew
“The Mommy Whisperer.”
— Natalie Morales, TODAY show
"In this brilliant and timely book, Michele Borba brings into sharp relief the key skill for children making it in the twenty-first century -- empathy. This beautifully written, eminently actionable book will inspire parents and their children to take on the complex issues of our twenty-first century guided by the power of empathy and kindness. This book offers a roadmap to a much brighter future."
— Dacher Keltner, director of the Greater Good Science Center and author of The Power Paradox: How we Gain and Lose Influence
"UnSelfie is an absolute must-read for parents. Want your children to be both caring and successful? UnSelfie shows you how, with easy to implement techniques grounded in the latest research. It turns out that empathy-- understanding other people's feelings -- is not just "nice," but one of the most useful skills your children can learn. An engaging read with vivid stories and practical advice, UnSelfie is the most important parenting book you will read this year."
— Jean M. Twenge, author of Generation Me and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic
“UnSelfie contains everything parents and educators need how to know to give children the ‘empathy advantage’ and raise a new generation of caring, happy, successful kids. Nobody on the planet is better than Michele Borba at showing you how to put empathy into action. Read this book. It will change your kids' lives!”
— Jack Canfield, Coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Parent’s Soul and The Success Principles™
"Once again Dr. Michele Borba has written a book that is not only 'good' but essential. By writing about empathy in the context of our children's increased technology use, Dr. Borba penetrates the often hidden world of electronics. She does so with a science-based perspective that mirrors our own common sense. UnSelfie is a must-read for parents, teachers, and policy-makers."
— Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and The Wonder of Girls
“Dr. Borba’s 9-step plan for raising successful, happy kids who also are kind, courageous, and resilient provides a revolutionary new framework for learning empathy. Empathetic kids will thrive in the future, but the seeds of success can be planted today—one habit at a time. Read this book to find out how.”
— Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege and Teach Your Children Well
“Countless books advise parents on how to foster their children’s achievement and determination. But in order to succeed in today’s world, it’s just as important to be kind, compassionate, and concerned about the well-being of others. If you care about cultivating these traits in your child – and you should – you’ll heed Michele Borba’s wise advice.”
— Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., author of The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting
“As a parent and educator, I understand why so many of us are worried about the impact of constant connectivity and self-focus our culture so often glorifies. But Michele Borba's UnSelfie gives us such a powerful tool to counteract these seemingly overwhelming challenges. She has wonderful and practical ways to reconnect with our children and guide them so they can develop healthy relationships with others. And really her advice doesn't only apply to our children--we would all do well to follow Borba's advice.I hadn't even finished it and I was already applying her wisdom to how I am raising my sons.”
— Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes
"As the world increasingly values and rewards self-indulgent and narcissistic behavior, it has become more difficult to raise kind, empathetic kids. This is the first book I’ve read that provides clear, practical, research-based steps for for raising empathetic children. UnSelfie is an essential, enjoyable read for parents and educators, a book I plan to keep close at hand as I write, parent, and teach.”
— Jessica Lahey, New York Times bestselling author of The Gift of Failure
“For children of every age, Michele Borba shows parents -- and all caregivers-- how a focus on empathy can build moral courage, kindness, teamwork, and self-regulation. She provides a gift to us all in guiding us in nurturing the best capabilities of our most precious resources and showing how natural it is for children to focus on the ‘we’ and not the ‘me.’
UnSelfie show how natural it is for children to live their lives with others at the center, and not themselves. In fact, empathic children are more likely to grow up to be accomplished, admired, cherished,beloved, and to serve as moral exemplars. By taking themselves out of the center of their camera's pictures, our children will find they open up new worlds of perspective, connection, and relationships.”
— Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., Author of Emotionally Intelligent Parenting and The Other Side of the Report Card
“Dr. Borba pulls the veil off of a much needed topic concerning the unhealthy self-centeredness existing in our world today. Her brilliant insight not only reveals the source of the problem, but provides much need applications and skill set training. A must read!”
— Darrell Scott, Founder, Rachel's Challenge
"Michele Borba masterfully empowers parents to nurture each child’s inherent goodness. This must-read book reminds us to keep our eyes on the real goal of parenting – building young people who will be the kind of caring, empathetic, contributing adults we hope them to be. If we want our children to THRIVE through good and challenging times we must never forget that it is their ability to reach out to –and give strength to – others that will make the difference. Here is a powerful book that will make a difference for our children today as we prepare them to be the kind of adults we need to lead our world tomorrow.”
— Kenneth R. Ginsburg MD, MS Ed, Author of “Raising Kids to Thrive” and “Building Resilience in Children and Teens”
“If I were asked to recommend just one book to parents, caregivers, and educators that serves as an essential research-based, no-nonsense, go-to guide for raising compassionate, caring, empathic, successful and happy children, UnSelfie would be my number one pick. Dr. Michele Borba is spot on with her recommendations, practical strategies, and resources for giving youth the empathy advantage badly needed in today’s and tomorrow’s world. I cannot recommend this book enough!”
— Trudy Ludwig, Children’s Advocate & Bestselling Author of The Invisible Boy
“UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World by Dr. Michele Borba provides a research-based road map and practical, empowering strategies to nurture empathy in a self-absorbed world that so desperately needs it. Inspired, hope-filled, insightful and hard to put down - a must read for all parents.”
— Amy McCready, author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World
“This beautiful gem of a book is a must read for all parents who care about the quality of life of their children and the world they inhabit. I can think of no better guide than Dr. Michele Borba to teach parents exactly how to cultivate and nurture the missing ingredient in their children success and happiness: empathy. . . . Dr. Borba explains the very simple, easy-to-implement, age-specific steps for how to change your child's perspective, today. What I love most about this book is the poignant, engaging stories Dr. Borba describes. I immediately began to share them at dinner with my family, and as a parent and psychologist I know this is the best way to teach. Storytelling creates unforgettable memories that will strike a deep and resounding chord. This is how we change the world for our children -- one moment of connection at a time.”
— Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., author of Freeing Your Child from Anxiety and Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking
“Michele Borba has written a game-changing guide showing why nurturing empathy in our children isn't optional -- it's essential. This groundbreaking book is an invaluable tool for parents and educators in their quest to raise compassionate, kind, and courageous children in a culture whose only success metric are grades, trophies, and resumes. For our children’s sake, I hope parents heed her sound advice to raise UnSelfies."
— Philip Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Stanford University President & Founder, Heroic Imagination Project, author, The Lucifer Effect
“Empathy helps us develop true friendships and have a happy life, and Michele Borba’s practical insights and advice are a huge help for parents who want to nurture this essential skill in their children."
— Harvey Karp, M.D., author The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block
“Empathy is a gateway to success for kids across every area of life — and Dr. Michele Borba leads parents on a practical, step-by-step journey to get there. Passionately written and impeccably researched, UnSelfie has practical strategies on every page that you can use right away.”
— Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out and co-founder of Girls Leadership
"In this era of increased technology use, UnSelfie emphasizes the important reminder that kindness, caring and being genuinely connected to others is critical for children. Parents are their role models and teachers in this arena. Borba offers numerous suggestions for helping children develop and exhibit empathy and helping families find ways to connect to each other with digital-free activities. A great read."
— Tovah Klein, author of How Toddlers Thrive
In Unselfie, Michele Borba boldly takes on the mistaken modern myths and practices that may lead today’s young into the traps of self-absorption, and she offers us a better way.
— William Damon, Professor and Director, Stanford Center on Adolescence and author of The Path to Purpose
“UnSelfie offers a life jacket for those swimming in a sea of selfie culture. Wade in, cast your line and reel in a plan for raising self-regulated empathic children. Three cheers for Michele Borba!”
— Mary Gordon, founder of Roots of Empathy
“Luckily for us, Michele Borba has focused her attention on one of our most critical issues-- how we can raise empathic, caring children. And she has brought to this work her great compassion and an exceptional combination of skills. She listens deeply to and earns the trust of children, parents and educators from around the world. She draws on the latest, pioneering research with wisdom and integrity and provides concrete, compelling advice and strategies that parents and educators will eagerly weave into their daily lives with children. She’s a treasure. She makes me hopeful that our next generation of children will be more invested in each other and more committed to creating a better and more just world.”
— Richard Weissbourd, Senior Lecturer, Director of the Human Development and Psychology Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
Michele Borba has the rare gift of being able to take insights from cutting-edge research on empathy and character development and turn them into how-to strategies that any parent or teacher can use tomorrow. Every generation has a few child rearing experts who become the go-to persons for wise advice on the toughest challenges facing families and schools. In our time, and around the world, no one is a more trusted voice on character and child behavior than Michele Borba. And no one is better equipped to help us raise more empathic, kinder, happier kids.
— Thomas Lickona, director of the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (Respect and Responsibility) and author of Character Matters
“I have never, ever read a book that combines solid research on a timely and critical subject—the importance of promoting empathy—with so many amazing and creative how-to suggestions that turn this research into action. Unselfie is a must-read!”
— Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making: the Seven Essential Skills Every Child Needs
Parenting expert Borba (Building Moral Intelligence) traveled the world and researched for decades before writing this fresh and powerful primer on raising caring kids. The book came into focus, she explains, while she was visiting the Cambodian killing fields outside Phnom Penh. Her resultant goal—find out what causes inhumanity and how to stop it—led her to visit Dachau, Auschwitz, and Rwanda, as well as school classrooms. By consulting current research, she discovered that a strong sense of empathy is not only a moral imperative, but also an advantage in attaining health, happiness, and career success. In separate chapters, Borba presents nine essential empathetic skills: emotional literacy, moral identity, perspective talking, moral imagination, self-regulation, practicing kindness, collaboration, moral courage, and compassionate leadership abilities. In each section, she provides a wealth of exercises, activities, and age-by-age strategies to help parents nurture empathy—a trait, she stresses, that is not innate but can be taught and developed. With narcissism and self-absorption on the rise in our digital age, she argues, this trait is in danger. Her thought-provoking and practical book may very well tip over the parenting priority applecart—and rightly so.
— Publishers Weekly
“Borba builds an excellent case for empathy, and parents concerned with the trend toward self-absorption and bullying among young people will find useful tips to counteract the negative messages children are hearing.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“Michele Borba makes a strong case for empathy as a tool that can be taught to kids, positioning them for success. . . . When you have empathy, it’s like cutting through the mess and getting straight to what drives 99.9 percent of most people: a need to be understood, valued and loved."
— Mackenzie Dawson, The New York Post
“Unselfie is an engaging and thoughtfully argued book, and its topic — teaching children to be more mindful of other people, and more in control of themselves and their own emotions — is as timely as ever. . . . There is a sense, when reading Unselfie, that so much is possible. That, of course, we’re going to raise our children to be loving and kind and that we all have our kids' best interests at heart. But the truth is that, day-to-day, it’s very hard to keep those goals visible because we are so very busy. Borba’s book makes the case that our efforts can and will be repaid in a more empathetic world moving forward. It’s tempting to believe her.”
— New York Magazine