Wellbeing News

Hi families,

As we continue on our respectful journey, today’s article looks at the importance of teaching our children empathy and simple ways we can do this.

Happy reading,

Ms Jodie

Parents: It’s On You To Teach Your Kids Empathy

Leah Campbell

Now, more than ever, the one thing it seems our society could benefit from more of is empathy. But the next generation has the opportunity to turn things around, and to possibly create a healthier society overall, if only their empathy could be fostered and better developed.

What parents may not realize is that they have the power to do just that.  

Helping Kids Build Empathy

Fostering a child’s natural inclination toward empathy can start very early on, when kids are toddlers and begin to walk and talk. During these years children become more aware of their surroundings. They begin to recognise differences and similarities, their language abilities begin to expand, their social and emotional functioning starts to develop, and their cognitive development (thinking, learning and problem-solving skills) occurs more rapidly.

It is recommended that parents start planting the seeds early on by doing the following:

  1.   Model empathy by showing it toward your child and showing empathy to others outside the home. Validating your child’s feelings and the feelings of others goes a long way in teaching children to value and display the same.
  2.   Make discussions about your child’s feelings and the feelings of others a normal part of everyday conversations. This can include discussions about characters in books, TV shows or with pretend play.
  3.   Use “I statements” such as “I feel (share how you feel), because (share why you feel this way).” And, if needed, “I’d like (propose a solution to how the issue or feeling can be improved).” This will help your child focus on feelings and why they have them.
  4.   Teach them the real use of “I’m sorry.” Children are often taught to say I’m sorry and it becomes an automatic response. However, most do not fully understand it. Instead, parents should teach children to say “I’m sorry,” to explain exactly why they are sorry, and to take ownership of what was wrong with their words or actions and express understanding of how that impacted others. This is more beneficial for building empathy and being mindful in considering the thoughts and feelings of others before they say or do things.
  5.   Go beyond words. While asking someone how they feel is great, when we teach children to recognize body language and social cues, the cultivation of empathy goes much further and deeper.

It is important for parents to remain consistent with cultivating empathy over time.

Parents have far more influence than they likely realised, not only in helping their kids to develop into kind, caring, empathetic individuals, but also in helping to contribute to a healthier society overall.




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