Young children seem to be wired to notice and enjoy the happy experiences of others, but this tendency to experience “empathic happiness” seems to fade in later childhood when it is replaced by self-doubt, envy, and worry. This process of losing the natural inclination for empathic happiness is exacerbated for some children who become dysregulated during social interactions. The SHAPE JOY (Socializing Happiness and Promoting Empathic Joy in Our Youth) program is designed to help parents develop their mindful parenting through contemplative parenting practices that support children’s ability to self-regulate while being mindfully aware of their empathetic happiness. First, SHAPE JOY content (e.g., instructional videos that teach mindful parenting skills and demonstrate contemplation activities) will be finalized using feedback from focus groups of parents and children. Second, in a wait-list control randomized trial design, observations of parent-child interactions, parent ratings scales, and physiological measures will be used to test the efficacy of SHAPE JOY for facilitating contemplative parenting practices and children’s empathetic happiness during program contemplation activities and in everyday contexts. Our goal is to develop a program that easily fits into families’ daily routines, strengthens parent-child contemplation practices, and supports the foundations of children’s empathic happiness.
Georgia State University
My research has focused on developing multi-method assessments for measuring children’s empathy, especially their empathic happiness, and understanding its role in children’s healthy social development, positive self-perceptions, and mental health. … MORE