With the large number of natural disasters, I’m reminded about how important empathy is.
Empathy is the ability to be aware of how other people are feeling. It’s putting yourself in their shoes by imagining how you would feel if you were dealing with the same set of circumstances. The world lacks compassion and needs people who are empathetic to others to help make it a better place. You have the opportunity as a parent to teach your kids empathy towards others.
10 Ways to Teach your Kids Empathy
1. Explain to your children the difference between noticing how someone is different and judging them.
This way, they understand that there is nothing wrong with being different and that you can talk about the differences. However, you don’t have a right to judge them because you don’t know what their life may be like or what difficulties they’re going through.
2. Teach your children about people from every culture.
The more they learn about other people and how they live, the easier it will be for them to accept people who are different from themselves. It will help to make your kids more tolerant towards people from different cultures.
3. Help kids realize that people have different backgrounds.
Teach your kids that some people are less fortunate and deal with all types of adversities that affect the way they live. For example, people who have experienced some type of trauma in their life may turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with their past.
4. Teach about physical and mental differences.
Talk to your kids about mental illnesses and medical conditions that affect the way someone talks or looks. It will help them to understand why some people are different. Not only will they feel thankful for being healthy, but they can have more empathy for those dealing with such issues.
5. Teach body language.
Teach your kids how to read body language and expressions. It will help them to know when they hurt someone’s feelings or when someone is suffering silently.
6. Foster a helping heart.
We have a responsibility to help others when they encounter someone in need. Talk about the different ways to help when they notice a problem. For example, if you see another child sad and lonely because everyone is ignoring them, say hello and introduce yourself.
7. Show kids how to help others.
Help your kids be empathic by allowing them to help you help others less fortunate. Visit nursing homes together, work in soup kitchens feeding the hungry, or do any good deed for someone else. The more you help others, the more your heart fills with love and kindness.
8. Encourage kindness.
Praise your kids for showing empathy towards others. Kids love to make their parents happy. Therefore, praising them for a job well done when they show empathy towards others makes them feel good and that makes them want to repeat the action that gained your approval.
9. Teach kids how to be polite.
Teach your kids how to be polite, respectful, and kind. Don’t expect your child to know these things automatically. Take time to work with them and teach them how to be a good person and to control their anger so they won’t act in a manner they may regret later.
10. Set a strong example.
If you go around talking badly about other people, your children will do the same. They follow in your footsteps in more ways than you might realize. Be sure to set a good example by helping others in need. Mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn, go shopping for sick family members and friends, or denote food and clothing to the needy.
Empathy is an important quality to have. Take steps to teach your children all about it and explain how being empathic towards others can enrich their lives and make them a better person.