It’s not easy to put oneself in another’s shoes. With so much focus on personal success, many people find it difficult to identify with others. But as adults, we know that empathy can positively impact the world around us. But what about young children?
Children grow up in a world that doesn’t encourage them to understand and empathize with others who may be different from them. Instead, peer pressure enables them to judge others based only on their appearance or possessions.
But it’s comforting to know that children aren’t born with a lack of empathy. It’s something that needs to be nurtured. Parents can help their children develop empathy by incorporating simple strategies into their daily lives.
Luckily, many simple ways to help your child develop their emotional intelligence at home or school.
- Play Games That Develop Empathy
Play is where children learn. But it is also the place where they develop empathy. Children can learn a lot about their feelings and how to interact with others through games. Games encouraging children to think about others and look at life differently can help them see the world empathetically.
Play is one of the most effective social and emotional learning activities for elementary school students. In these activities, children learn to be compassionate and empathetic toward others. Children learn best when they are engaged in something interesting. Social and emotional learning (SEL) can also take other forms, such as random acts of kindness, teaching appreciation, encouraging positive self-talk, and taking nature walks.
Popular games like Simon Says can help your child develop empathy. This is a classic game where the child must follow instructions of “Simon.” It is an emotional intelligence game that helps children explore their emotional awareness while training their ability to listen and focus.
Games are critical for teaching skills that help children navigate social situations, build relationships, and meet life’s challenges.
- Talk to Your Child About Empathy
Children respond very strongly to their parents, especially when they are young. Now is an excellent time to talk to your child about empathy. Have regular conversations with your child about compassion and empathy.
There are many ways you can talk about empathy. Talk about your child’s school and ask him how he would feel if he were the child in his class who did not have any new or fancy things.
By having these conversations, they can better understand their feelings and recognize the feelings of others. Your child may not understand what empathy means, but they will be able to recognize how it affects their emotions and the feelings of others.
- Help Your Child Understand Their Feelings
When your child understands his feelings, he can better understand the feelings of others. They learn how to deal with their emotions healthily to relate better with others. Talk regularly about how your child is feeling. Ask him how he feels and why he feels that way. This is also a good time to teach your child to name his feelings. You can do this by using the feelings chart or by talking about the emotions that they’re experiencing.
- Go Outside Together and Talk About the World Around You
The world is a vast, ever-changing place. Children are curious creatures and can be fascinated by the world around them. Use this opportunity to talk about each other’s feelings and how they are affected by their surroundings.
Talk to your child about your surroundings. Ask them how they would feel in such a situation and what they would do. This can help your child better understand their feelings and the feelings of others.
You can talk about the feelings of homeless people or those who work long hours and how this affects them.
- Read Books That Show Different Kinds of Families
Books are a great way to show your child that there are different types of families. Whether it’s a family with only one parent or a family with two moms or two dads, showing your child that it’s okay to be different can help them develop empathy.
When reading these books with your child, be open to discussion. Ask about their thoughts and feelings about the different families in the book. This helps them process their feelings and understand how they are similar to the families in the book and those around them.
- Ask Questions to Encourage Empathy
You can ask your child various questions to help them understand and empathize with others. Here are a few examples:
- What do you think this person feels?
- How do you think this person got to this point in their life?
- What can we do to help this person?
- If you could say anything to this person, what would you say?
With these questions in your pocket, talk with your child about their feelings and those of others.
As a parent, you know that one of your most important jobs is to help your child develop into an empathetic person. Teaching your child empathic skills can help them when they’re out in the world as adults and want to help those around them. There is no secret formula because there are many ways to foster empathy in your child. You can talk with your child regularly about how they feel and how others feel, play games that teach tenderness, read books with your child that show different families, and discuss how different families are similar and different.