Author Q&A: Christine Fonseca Talks Raising Compassionate Children
Christine Fonseca Talks Raising Compassionate Children: Author Q&A
PUBLISHED: Thursday, July 11, 2019 by Andilynn Feddeler

Empathy, or the ability to understand other people's thoughts and emotions from their point of view, is a vital component of cooperation and necessary in our increasingly diverse world. The Caring Child: Raising Empathetic and Emotionally Intelligent Children pulls together the latest research from positive psychology to provide parents specific tools to help their children develop healthy empathy and emotional intelligence. Learn more about the importance of these skills and how to cultivate them in this interview with the author, Christine Fonseca.


Q: Why is understanding empathy important for today’s parents and youth?

A: We live in a challenging world. Suicide rates are up among our children by more than 200%. Self-esteem and happiness ratings are down. Anxiety and depression are being diagnosed among children and adults at alarming rates. The need for increased emotional intelligence, resilience, and empathy development has never been more pertinent than it is with this current generation and the upcoming generations of children. Parents and educators are the first line in helping today’s youth, so writing a book for them seemed important and necessary.


Q: How did you develop your book? 

A: I work as an educational psychologist and consultant. Every day, I am asked questions about developing social-emotional skills, including empathy and resilience, in today’s youth. This book is born out of those questions and the work I do coaching parents and families. I spoke with hundreds of parents, educators, and children; conducted an extensive literature review of the prevailing research in the field; and attempted to create something parents and educators could find useful as they work to positively impact today’s children.


Q: How can teachers develop more empathetic and compassionate classroom environments?

A: Developing more compassionate classrooms begins with forming and nurturing positive relationships with students. Focus on building a caring community, with clearly established expectations for behavior. When corrections are needed, as will happen, approach them from a perspective of developing empathy and collaborative problem solving. In the book, I offer several role-plays and scenarios to provide examples of ways to work through problems with students. The role-plays focus on not only solving behavioral challenges, but also restoring relationships and developing emotional intelligence and empathy. Finally, shift from wondering “What’s wrong with you?” when students misbehave to “What happened to you?” Many of our children come to our classrooms with lives impacted by trauma and traumatic stress. Shifting our thinking can help us approach our children with empathy and model what we want to see in our students.


Q: How does building resilience relate to building empathy?

A: Empathy is an aspect of social-emotional development. Resilience is the integration of all of your social-emotional and cognitive processes and responses working together. As you integrate your various brain processes, you increase your resilience. Empathy is an essential aspect of this work—this process.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from your work? 

A: I really hope that readers are able to take complex ideas like empathy development, resilience, and emotional flexibility, and make practical sense out of them all. I want my books to be like the trusted friend you have coffee with and seek counsel from, filled with practical ideas that you can implement with practice. For The Caring Child, I also want readers to see that simple changes in how we communicate with our children can make a huge impact to their development of empathy and emotional intelligence. Most importantly, I want readers to realize they are not alone in the challenges they face as both parents and educators. My books are written as an offering of hope and practical, no-nonsense strategies to improve outcomes for kids.


Christine Fonseca is dedicated to helping children and adults find their unique voice in the world. She delves into the world of giftedness, resiliency, and temperament, offering children and adults a no-nonsense, how-to approach to facing the world without fear.