4 Tips to Nurture Empathy In Your Children
As social beings, empathy is an essential emotion that allows us to understand and relate to the feelings of others. When we are empathetic, our relationships and connection with the world around us improve, and we become more appreciative of diversity.
Empathy is a must-learn skill for every child, as it helps in connecting with others & instigates maturity. Psychologists have identified three types of empathy – Emotional, Cognitive & Compassionate that altogether help in nurturing our relationships. Emotional empathy is the ability to feel what another person is feeling. This type of empathy helps you form emotional connections with others.
Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand how a person feels and what they might be thinking. It helps us communicate better because it allows us to relay information in a way that best reaches the other person.
Lastly, compassionate empathy for someone is more than just understanding their feelings or sharing them. We’re motivated to take action and help the other person.
Kids who are empathetic have a better understanding of their own emotions and how to regulate them. There are many ways to teach empathy to children. Some good strategies include giving them the opportunity to role-play, helping them understand other people’s perspectives, and encouraging open communication. Continue reading to understand how to develop empathy in your children!
1. Talk About Your Own and Your Child’s Feelings
When you as parents talk about your own feelings and your children’s feelings, you create a space to nurture empathy in your children. This will allow both to learn from each other’s perspectives. This also allows you to create a deeper bond with your children as both of you can understand the other better.
When you yourselves, or your children are feeling overwhelmed by strong emotions, it can be helpful to discuss why you are feeling that way. This can help the latter better understand their own emotions, and also learn how to empathize with others in the future. By growing up emotionally strong, they will be better equipped to handle whatever life throws their way.
You can talk about your own feelings and how small acts of kindness help you feel supported and cared for. Here are some examples of what this can include
- “I appreciate that your dad came out shopping with me even though he doesn’t like shopping a lot. It makes me feel loved and cared for.”
- “Thank you for helping me cook dinner today. You noticed that I was tired after coming home from work and took time out of your playtime to help me. I really appreciate that!”
2. Create situations & observe how your child perceives empathy
Children are born understanding empathy, but it needs to be nurtured throughout their lives. Learning empathy is like learning a language or sport. It requires practice and instruction. Considering other people’s perspectives regularly helps make empathy a natural response and, through trial and error, helps children get better at understanding others’ feelings and perspectives. You can do so using the following techniques:
- Ask your children about their classmates and other peers, and how they are doing. When they’re in conflicts with peers, ask them to consider their perspectives. Helping your child relate to someone else’s feelings can help them form strong relationships with others and connect their shared experiences.
- It’s important to encourage children to work together with diverse groups of students to solve community problems, instead of doing it or having someone else do it alone.
- Notice what your child observes about empathy in your daily life, in stories, or on TV. Talk about why acts of empathy are important and why we must always show empathy to others, no matter how they are feeling.
3. Teach Your Child to Label Their Emotions
Being emotionally literate means being able to correctly identify the emotions you are feeling. It’s being able to understand and respond to emotions in a healthy way – both in yourself and others. Emotionally literate children tend to be healthier, have less loneliness, be less impulsive, and have greater academic achievement.
Naming feelings is important for children because it allows them to talk about and reflect on their own personal experiences. The more emotions a child can name, the better they will be able to differentiate between them and communicate with others about their feelings. As children learn to identify different emotions, they can start to understand and manage their own emotions. This will, in turn, also allow them to show empathy for others. By labeling emotions, children can try relating to them better.
4. Foster a Climate of Empathy
As a family, you should put effort into creating a harmonious environment where children are encouraged to be understanding and supportive of their loved ones. By working together to create this type of climate, you can help your children develop strong relationships with the people around them.
There are many ways to foster empathy, like by performing small acts of kindness. Some more examples include taking out the garbage when someone is pressed for time, verbalizing when you feel the situation is hard to deal with, etc. These actions will help create a culture of empathy.
If your child is struggling with empathy, there are a few things you can do to help. You can create opportunities for them to be empathic and show how being kind can benefit everyone involved. Empathy can be hard to learn, but with enough practice, it can become a natural part of your child’s personality.
Children who are able to empathize with others tend to be successful in life. Parents, teachers, and caregivers can set the foundation for this success by nurturing empathy skills. Siblings can also have a positive impact on one another by being supportive and understanding.
At Kosh, we help parents create successful and empathetic children through various workshops, parenting classes, and one-on-one parenting consultation sessions. To learn how to nurture empathy in your child at a more personal level, avail a one-on-one counseling session with one of our highly-acclaimed parenting coaches today!