Teaching Kids About Empathy
Something I have been thinking about a lot during this campaign is how we get to the root of how to teach our children to give, why it’s important and what motivates us to help others. When Amy, Amanda and I thought about doing this we brainstormed all different ideas and every time we came back to wanting families to teach by example, to base this lesson in their own family values and to make it personal.
Make it personal.
To make something personal we need to understand where other people are coming from, we need to put ourselves in their shoes, to empathize.
How do you teach children empathy for others ?
- Show them empathy. Openly empathize with others as an example.
- Talk about feelings, a lot. Theirs, yours, anyone’s. Talk about fictional character’s feelings. Connect these feelings to your children. ” Wow Alexander is really angry at his brother. Have you ever been angry at your brother?”
- Role play. We use this strategy all the time from preparing our kids for special events like holiday parties to going on the airplane and conflicts with friends.
- Work to see their viewpoint as often if not more often than we try to force them to see ours. When your kid is acting up it’s hard sometimes to put yourself in their shoes. It might make you feel soft or like a pushover even. You can still have clear and solid boundaries and consequences while empathizing and it will encourage empathetic responses from your kids as well. Teach by example.
- Don’t wait for your child to feel an emotion before you talk about that emotion. Have them practice putting themselves in others shoes. Tell stories true and fictional. There are a lot of experiences my kids haven’t had but I have and I use those as we explore feelings. It gives them a connection to the feelings and experience without having to have had it themselves, at least not yet.
Once kids can empathize with children in different situations then their own they can really understand why these acts of kindness and giving matter.
I know that in the past week your heart like mine has been filled with empathy, sorrow and disbelief . Use those tears to do good and to plant the seeds of charity and giving in our children. Here is a link to all the different ways to give to the families of children and teachers who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Another post that really struck me this week was on Peanut Blossom . Tiffany and I met at BlogHer in NYC and sadly last week a friend of her’s lost her dear son Alex in a accident in their home. Alex loved to read and in his honor Tiffany has made it super simple to send books to Chicago Children’s Hospital. I think this is such a wonderful way to remember a child gone too soon while helping others who are fighting for their lives. You can see her post here.
So far little hands have made a big difference by donating over 62 hours of service, 121 food items, 80 toys, and $1554 ! All of this doesn’t just help those in need it helps teach your children how important giving is and how good it makes them feel.
If you have worked in some way for a cause with your kids please add it to our tally here so we can all show the kids what they can do and that even if they did something small that small things add up and make this world better for all of us.
If you have blogged about giving, a charity project or what you have done for #blog4cause add it to our linky below.