Ways to Fostering and Teaching Empathy to Kids
Leading Children to a Meaningful Childhood and Shaping Them to Becoming Compassionate Adults
What is empathy? In layman’s term, empathy is simply putting yourself into someone else’s shoe. Although children can’t understand the whole concept, empathy is more effective when taught at a young age.
Why is showing and teaching empathy good for kid’s character development?
- It reflects their own feelings and to the feelings of others
- It shows unselfish relation unto others
- It helps avoid bullying or criticizing other kids
- It fosters generosity and compassion
- It nurtures self-awareness and self-control
- It develops moral values
In such instance, parents should teach how empathy for kids can shape a good character. And you should be the first advocate of good values.
Reading stories and having kids watch movies can help shape how they see and feel others. What did Simba feel when his father Mufasa died? How about when he met Timon and Pumba? Books and movies can show how the characters feel, think, and want. Through understanding the character’s point of view, the child develops an inner comprehension on what it means to lose a loved one or to meet a new friend.
This principle underlies in the understanding of the words “what if.” “What if you are put into that situation?” In a nutshell, being empathetic is like reading other’s feeling and reacting accordingly.
Model of empathy
Your child loves following what you do. So when you show care and kindness, you are modeling favorable values and will eventually reflect in your child’s character. They will bring these values throughout their lives—the way you lecture other kids, the way you forgive others, and the way you exhibit concern on your kids. Encourage them to imagine other’s feelings and thoughts, and help them understand that every action has corresponding consequences.
Teach them how to appreciate
Gratitude is also a sign of empathy. Let your child understand that recognizing the strengths of others is valuing individual’s worth, that “praise” is a good thing. Instead of finding your child’s flaws, highlight their best abilities. In this way, your child will also recognize the strength of others because they’ll know the wonderful feeling of a compliment.
Teach them how to forgive
An act of forgiveness is showing empathy. Kids are more likely to empathize when they understand that mistakes are inevitable. As a parent, you should show them that making mistakes is part of growing up and learning new things. So through forgiving, your child will nurture emotional coping skills and higher understanding of other’s weaknesses.
Show physical affection
Positive body languages like hugs and thumbs-up can be effective gestures of showing empathy. Studies show that these pleasant gestures produce higher level of oxytocin—also called as the “cuddle or love hormone” that promotes healthy social interaction and bonding. Remind your child that a hug is the best way to lessen people’s misery or fear. Influence them by giving a hug regularly and a two thumbs-up if they’ve done something remarkable.
Responsive parenting entails forming your child’s character and values. When you are developing empathy, you are growing a flexible, thoughtful, and compassionate person.