1. punkyeleven

    punkyeleven Member

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    Can a 12 years old have high empathy level?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by punkyeleven, Oct 10, 2019.

    In the story I'm writing the main characters are 12 years old. They get in the argument, because one of them was mean to the other kid and the other character doesn't think it's okay and accuses the "mean" kid of not having any feeling at all. I was just thinking if the accusation of the kid doesn't come off as too mature for his age? Is the fact that he brought up the topic too mature for 12 years old?
     
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  2. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    1o year olds are like little, dweeby professors...all knowledge, justice and goodness...until about 13 and 3/4s
     
  3. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Sure, kids come in all types. Depending on how he was raised, I can see how he could be empathetic.
     
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  4. Richach

    Richach Member

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    Children can become highly sensitized depending on their interactions with other people. It is therefore plausable that they can display hightened awareness of emotions. Clearly this differs from child to child.

    I write middle aged fantasy and people do questions; would a child act like that, would a child understand that etc. I think some are way more advanced than we give them credit for and some not so much.

    Characters that are 12 years old; I am immediatley thinking of Stand by me / The Body - Stephen King for example.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
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  5. Mary Elise

    Mary Elise Member

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    Gender can matter in this scenario, given you used "his" age I'm guessing male. At 12 my daughter was a drama queen and would've said something like that. My youngest son? Not a chance. By third grade he wouldn't admit to having feelings except when I kissed him goodnight and tucked him in.

    ETA: the schools are teaching some insane stuff nowadays so the character may parrot what he's hearing in class, something like "that's _______ist" or "you can't say that!"
     
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  6. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Contributor Contributor

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    My sister was HIGHLY empathetic from a very young age. Watched Titanic at 6 and cried because they were mean to Jack and then he died without them saying sorry. Her best friend had Aspergers and my sister was always her protector and would sometimes come home crying because of something someone said about her friend and she wasn't there to protect her.
    Now that she's in high school, she is a Student Buddy to the students with Down syndrome, and tutors them. She also volunteers with habitat for humanity to build houses.

    She is just overtly caring and feels way too much. We try to tell her that she can't help everyone, and this depresses her.

    I say the accusation is completely plausible.
     
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  7. Rzero

    Rzero Senior Member

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    Some kids seem to be born with great empathy. My five-year-old has more compassion and a better understanding of what other people are feeling than many adults, and acts accordingly. He was three or so when our dog died. He told me he was sad, but more so for me, because I knew her longer, and that would be harder. Nobody explained that to him. He just understood it.

    A while before that, he was getting in trouble at daycare for shoving kids who made other kids cry by stealing toys. We had to nip the aggressive aspect of that in the bud, of course, but I can see his empathy and innate distaste for bullies translating into precisely the type of scenario in your story, so long as I can keep him from becoming a kid who craves peer acceptance to the point that he ignores his own morals, which is a very real possibility for a twelve-year-old, especially one who's been bullied too and fears becoming a target. (I mention that last caveat with a modicum of personal shame.)
     
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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't see how that's "too mature". In what way is recognising mean behaviour considered mature of a 12 year old? They know very well what they're doing by that age. What is unusual is that the character isn't staying quiet under peer pressure and the need to be friends. Recognising some behaviour as mean and unacceptable isn't mature for a 12 year old.

    To give a reverse example, most recently I heard one of my kids (I work in a school), let's call him Boy A (a 10 year old), gossiping loudly with his circle of friends about someone else (he was complaining that Boy B was "shouting" at people constantly). Firstly, Boy B is one of the quietest boys I know and I certainly had not heard him shouting. There was indeed some bickering. but not shouting. Secondly, it was a fight I'd already told them to stop pursuing. So I went up to Boy A and basically asked, "Are you complaining about Boy B again?"

    They all looked shifty and said, "No we weren't. We were talking about... stuff. We're talking about... apples."

    Do you think this bunch of 10 year olds - about 10 of them there in total - knew they were being nasty about another kid? That it was unacceptable behaviour that would get them in trouble from a teacher? Of course they knew.

    So a 12 year old? If they told me they didn't know, I'd call them a liar. Unless they were special needs with some sort of development delay or other special circumstances, or perhaps if the behaviour could be misinterpreted due to social or cultural reasons. But on the whole, as a general rule? Hell yeah they know.
     
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  9. Rence

    Rence Member

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    Funnily enough I am reading the Institute by Stephen King and it leapt to my mind when I read the OP. The protagonist is 12 as well and very emotionally intelligent. So if King can do it, so can you @punkyeleven !
     
  10. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Depends on the situation, the climate of the story, and the kids in general. I could be a real bitch at twelve but I was mainly empathetic because of my upbringing. Why you're surrounded by kids who need a lot of empathy and understanding it becomes a knee-jerk reaction.
    Mostly kids don't speak up cause it might not be cool, they'll look like they care too much or like that person too much and they don't want to be associated with a 'loser' and somethings they think - hey, dork speak up for yourself, I'm not your hero. So you need to temper in the motivation behind why the kid does speak up not just because its the right thing to do - why does he do it.
     
  11. ohno_you do!

    ohno_you do! Banned

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    No they usually laugh at body gas jokes so I say no.
     
  12. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Apples that shout too loudly? That's a new one.... :)

    Personally, I think adults and children are no different when it comes to revealing empathy. They both either show empathy (because it's good to be empathetic and they want to 'help') or to hide empathy (because it makes them vulnerable themselves.) Kids can vary on that one, just as adults can ...whether they are willing to show their caring nature or to hide it.

    Of course a kid won't be empathetic if the event is about something they don't understand. But then again, neither will an adult. But both will understand upset or tears or tone of voice.

    However, children and adults aren't always empathetic. They can range from simply being self-absorbed, to being consciously cruel.

    It's been said that children who are cruel to animals (because they 'can') turn out to be cruel adults ...even though they might have learned to disguise their cruelty. I think the reverse can also happen. An altruistic kid grows up and becomes cynical or more aware of the cruelty in the wider world, and realise they can't do much about it. That awareness won't make them cruel themselves, but it can make them less focused on stopping cruelty in others.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
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  13. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    They might well have been referring to Apple phones, because it's all the rage amongst these kids lol. They refused to admit what they were actually talking about and I let the matter drop, and promptly started chatting about their phones instead. I thought a change of topic was as good a strategy as anything to get them to stop.

    Anyway cause and effect is often the thing kids struggle with. Empathy isn't it, per se. Most children don't actively want to hurt someone but they don't realise that something can and does hurt and to what extent.
     
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  14. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Gay Souffle Contributor

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    I don't think it's too mature at all. Kids that age are nearly teenagers, after all. As well as empathy (which, as shown above, kids are capable of from a very young age), they'll have a very strong sense of right and wrong and will probably have been told a lot (and shown a lot of rather over-enthusiastic videos) about how to treat their fellows.

    My question is, are the kids in question friends? In that case, they'll be more secure in calling each other out because they know (probably only subconsciously) that the friendship will survive (consciously they'll probably panic about it being over, whether they admit it or fume about how they didn't want to be friends with that idiot anyway), and they won't necessarily be cowed into silence by peer pressure (which is strong but not omnipotent). I got the impression that it was the kid being attacked that accused the mean kid of having no feelings. That just sounds like a normal argument to me, and something like that would happen all the time. If it's another kid, are they part of the friendship group? Then it's natural for their friend to want to stick up for them. And one last thing, do they really think that the kid has no feelings, or are they just lashing out with something likely to upset them, which, in kids as in adults, can be a natural response when upset themselves? (And one that kids might be less good at suppressing.)

    I don't see exactly how teaching kids to be more socially conscious is "insane". It's progress if a kid calls out his classmate's racist or otherwise unacceptable language. (At my school, a kid was expelled for using the N-word at around the age we're talking about here.)
     
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  15. LazyBear

    LazyBear Senior Member

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    Don't forget the difference between empathy (thought), sympathy (feeling) and being good (action/intent).
    * Empathy is the ability to understand how someone thinks, which grows with experience. Someone lacking empathy can increase it using psychology studies. One can also use other people, law or religion as dogmas to become a bureaucrat. Too much empathy can tempt you into becoming manipulative, which is common after the age of 30.
    * Sympathy is the bad feeling you get when someone else is hurt, which comes with feeling personality types. Sympathy alone makes a crybaby and might prevent acts of altruism by not being calculating enough. Too little sympathy can tempt a psychopath into revenge while not thinking straight.
    * Being good is simply a choice. Empathy and sympathy are however useful tools for doing the task right when combined in the right amount.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
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  16. Mary Elise

    Mary Elise Member

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    Teaching standard civilized behavior is one thing, and not something a teacher should be forced to teach as it's the parents' responsibility to send their children to kindergarten with good social skills. Forcing students into things like this is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Nor ought a child be forced to apologize in class for their race or religion.

    Students need far better skills in science and mathematics than are offered today. The money and time spent on social issues the kids won't encounter in the next decade, if ever, could be much better spent on teachers' salaries, school facilities, extra emphasis on math/science knowledge, etc. Poor prioritization is one of many factors in public education's downfall.

    The vast majority of people won't meet one of the 0.4255% of the United States' population whose sociopolitical ambitions are dictating a full week of instruction in Illinois more than once or twice in their lifetimes. Even then how would anyone know a stranger's genetics are the opposite of the stranger's appearance unless the stranger wants to make it an issue? Current standards of social interaction dictate how those rare encounters ought to be handled. Illinois and Colorado and the other states mandating this curriculum are guilty of dereliction of duty IMO.

    Nor am I of the opinion that any and all behavior must be actively endorsed. I reserve the right to approve or disapprove of any behavior based on my experiences and philosophical/religious beliefs. Every other American has that same right. The foundation of freedom is critical thought and that is most definitely not being taught in public schools.

    In my part of the world black people of all ages use The Word without compunction. I was taught that The Word shall never be used. Full stop. I taught my kids the same. When they started school they heard black students calling each other The Word daily. My kids didn't understand why those students could use it but they couldn't. My answer was, "I don't care about other kids' bad behavior. You are my kid and this is my rule. Follow it or spend some time trying to wash the soap from between your teeth." .

    Expelling a student for using The Word when others in the school are almost certainly using The Word without risk of expulsion is a blatant injustice. A fortuitous combination of circumstances exist if no one in your school uses The Word.

    Either The Word is a despicable term or it isn't. It cannot be both. The determination doesn't vary based upon the speaker's demographic profile.
     
  17. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Contributor Contributor

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    you mentioned isolated incidents. The Board meeting said it best: "its not a matter of race, but a teacher using fear and the embarrassment of students to satisfy her beliefs."
    I'm sure we all have had a teacher that did things her own way (In second grade, my teacher told my parents I was too social and not mature enough to go to third grade because a "mature" third grader would know when to shut up... she went as far as keeping me isolated from my best friend. literally barring me from speaking to her at lunch and told me if we were caught talking to each other and playing with each other at recess, i would be punished. naturally, that did not sit well with my parents or the other girl's parents when she told them what was happening to me) (EDIT: maybe the teacher had some inherent racial bias, as my best friend was a white girl and I am black. Maybe the teacher had gender biases: my best friend dressed like a boy and even had short hair like a boy, where as I wore dresses and always had bows in my hair, at the time. Maybe the teacher stereotyped me as "the disruptive, loud, black girl" even though I stuttered and was quiet all the time because of that stutter. who knows what the reason was, but she pushed her beliefs and biases on us kids)
    The school's role is to educate. there are some bad educators, yes. but social issues is what is relevant to today. Kids also learn social skills by being social. They learn by being in an environment where they must socialize. These environments are at school where the parent is not there, but a teacher is.
    racism remains a current topic (my previous boss 2 years ago, her grandson in the 1st grade was suspended for calling a black student the N word and punching him. My boss blamed her daughter's husband because "i never raised her like that. he had to have learned it from his father's side"). Sexism is still a thing. kids WILL come into contact with race and gender and religion. a good teacher will prepare them for these things in general and keep their own beliefs out of it. It took me until college to have a teacher like that. My high school teacher were the bible beaters, where if you had questions, you weren't listening and/or not a believer. I adopted atheism in high school because thats what they told me I was. The nuns i met in college were more open and receptive to any questions I had on religion. A catholic nun taught Islam: Religion and Culture and she was aware of her own biases and brought us to a mosque to learn from an Imam and ask questions there. Another teacher would not reveal his own religion because he thought it was irrelevant to teaching and didn't want it to influence his students' reception to his class, even though he was a religion teacher (I went to a catholic university).

    And sometimes roles reverse and it is the kid that teaches the parents on how society has changed (i.e. "mom, we dont call mixed raced people "mutts" anymore" and "dad, 'tranny' is offensive. 'trans' is a better word" "we dont use the word 'retard' because it is hurtful" "its not ok to say 'no homo" etc.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
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  18. LazyBear

    LazyBear Senior Member

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    And sometimes the new words are worse than the old terms. My diagnose used to be "Aspergers Syndrome", but now the PC people call it "Autism Spectrum Disorder" which is highly offensive and makes it harder to get a job if the term is used.
     
  19. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Gay Souffle Contributor

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    What's wrong with it? Why is being autistic offensive? I thought it was its own diagnosis, which was part of the spectrum.

    Also, I love that gender unicorn! I wish we'd had that in school.
     
  20. LazyBear

    LazyBear Senior Member

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    Aspergers
    I can use the word "Autistic" in my resumes, but the word "Disorder" sounds like I'm banging my head against a wall and screaming all day long. Not easy to get a job then. Most people are surprised to see that I'm quite normal. :D

    Understanding scientific empathy
    I'm always amazed by how recruiters' false sense of empathy is being skewed by their ego's pursuit of self satisfaction. They call it "gut feeling" when they discriminate you, because the realization would break their self image. 80% of performance is based on intelligence rather than social skills no matter what the job is (from cleaner to professor), and for the remaining 20%, each job requires a balance between service-driven introvert skills and influential extrovert skills. The best performing sales people are omniverts, because everything in psychology is a balance between different tactics. Keep trying to push the wrong product, and the customer is leaving because you didn't listen and adapt. Needless to say, many companies flush down millions on trusting a false sense of empathy, causing them to only hire extrovert bosses while trying to support innovation from the bottom (requires introverted leaders). And they say that we don't have social skills? :confused:
     
  21. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    With the mod hat on can we get back on topic please - if you want to discuss the issues around aspergers/asd, or for that matter the issues pertaining to how the education system does or doesn't work feel free to start a new thread in the debate room,
     
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