11 Nov Children and Empathy
What is Empathy? Empathy is the ability to understand other’s feelings. The term “put your feet in my shoes” is completely applicable to Empathy.
Children aren’t born with Empathy, it is learned and one piece of Creating Brilliance is teaching them Empathy. As early as Toddler years, children can start learning Empathy. They can start to feel and understand other’s emotions. It is a crucial time to start laying the foundation for them to be aware. What is interesting about teaching them empathy is that they also begin to soothe other’s emotions. They see another friend crying and they go to them to help soothe them.
How do we teach empathy?
1. Role Model: Teachers, Parents, Grandparents, Babysitters are all role models for teaching empathy. How we interact, soothe and listen to others is a great opportunity to teach empathy. Children watch every move that adults make. Joy is a perfect way to share empathy. When your child, relative, or co-worker has great news, help share their joy. How easy to be excited when they are excited?!
2. “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” The beautiful Golden Rule. It isn’t just how YOU would like to be treated, but also imagining how the other person would like to be treated.
3. Use emotions to describe feelings. “I understand you are frustrated.” or “I see you are sad.” Teach children words to explain how they are feeling.
4. Stop criticizing. This is a hard one. Adults, by nature, are filled with feedback but are not always aware of how that may make a child feel. We absolutely need to guide children and teach them right and wrong but is a balance between guiding them and not criticizing their every move. Let them make mistakes and teach them the right way.
A recent study by Health Psychology found that parents with high empathy, had well adjusted children.