Empathy is such a skill, and one that many of us are lacking. But when it comes to raising children, it helps to be able to raise them to be children that have empathy for others. Being able to identify with and feel a certain way for another person is a powerful thing that has the overarching trait of kindness. It can stop negative actions or feelings towards people, as well as being able to have a desire to help others too.
Children are naturally more empathetic than others. But even with that being said, it doesn’t mean that they are going to always stay that way. They need to be raised and nurtured in a way that will help them to practice and show empathy on a regular basis. If we were all to do this, surely the world would be a better place? Here are some ways to help you navigate the path of parenthood, and to raise a more empathetic child.
Talk About Feelings: Our children aren’t going to know what feelings are unless we talk them through it. We have to let our children experience different emotions, so that we can then guide them through how to deal with it, or how to make them more emotionally literate. Using flashcards of different expressions can be a good thing to do too. Then they can point out how they are feeling, even if they can’t verbally express it yet.
Share Kind Acts: It is going to be rare that our children will just know how to help others or how to tune in to others feelings, as well as their own. So you could say things like ‘daddy looks like he needs a hug’ or ‘it would be nice if someone asked that girl to play’. It gives them ideas and connects the action to a thought or feeling, based on how someone is acting.
Experience the world: Being able to travel the world a little bit, or even the county that you live in through things like school trips, you’ll be able to have a child that knows more about the world around them and the people that live in it. They are likely to realise that there is more to life than just them and their neighbourhood when they are able to see and experience a little more of the world around them. That in turn can help them to be more empathetic and kinder to others.
Eye Contact: making eye contact with people that you’re talking to, can be an exceptional way to show empathy to others. So teaching our children to look people in the eye when they are talking to them is a basic skill, but it doesn’t always happen. You can see someone’s true feelings when you make eye contact, and they will think you are much more trustworthy if you are really listening to what they have to say. So from as early on as they can understand, teach them this important skill.
Read: there is so much magic that can come into our children’s lives through books. It can create a nice time to be together to read and talk about things, as well as learning from certain books and how the characters helped each other or showed empathy. Having a love of reading is always going to be a good thing too.
Model Behavior: There is the old saying that goes, do as I say and not as I do. But when it comes to parenting, it is just not going to do. We as parents have to be showing them the right kind of behaviour for them to emulate and model. So we must remember to be doing so as often as we can. If we want to raise kind and empathetic children, then we need to be kind and empathetic to those around us too.
Volunteer: There will be plenty of things that you can do in your local community to help and volunteer. Doing so as a family is a good way to show our children that life isn’t just all about them and what they want. It pushes us all out of our comfort zone a little bit, which can be a good thing when it comes to helping others, learning about them, and learning to be empathetic towards them.
There are so many things that we can do with our children to encourage them to be more empathetic and kinder to others. What have you found has worked for you, if anything? It would be great to hear what you think.