The world has become a bit too mean and we must be intentional about raising our children with kindness. One way of nurturing kindness in our children is through empathy. Peter Gray describes empathy as, “a tendency to connect emotionally with others, to see things from others’ point of view, and to feel sympathy for others’ misfortune.”
Empathy is an important trait and one of the easiest to develop as a child. Have you seen a baby look at another baby crying and say “baby sorry” ? That’s them displaying empathy but it needs to be nurtured and here’s how
Show them- Children are quick to model the behavior of people around them. When they see you show empathy to others, i.e. family, friends and domestic help; they are able to learn to do the same.
Tell them- Talk to them about your emotions. When you are happy, sad, frustrated or mad (angry) let them know . Shielding them from the full range of your emotions will not help them develop empathy.
Teach them- Apart from what they see you do, you must intentionally teach them to show empathy. For example, if a classmate loses a loved one ask them to reach out.
Read to them- Story telling is a gift and can be used to instill good values and build up empathy. Look for stories that show a range of emotions and teach lessons around empathy. ‘First Day at the Big School’ does this.
Empathize with them: Do not ignore their feelings. Here’s hoping we can be intentional about raising empathetic citizens of this world.