Teaching Empathy To Kids

August 11th, 2014by admin


Toddlers HugMost days it feels like I am playing referee to my twin boys rather than being the fun mom I know I can be. They are thick into those terrible twos where they are learning how to exert their independence and have a pretty self-centered world view. I am a believer in time outs and they have worked for my family. When they hurt one another, I tell them to hug each other and say sorry. It is very important to me that they know how to be empathetic and compassionate to others.

When watching the news, it is scary and overwhelming to witness the lack empathy in the world and its particularly unnerving to witness in kids. It seems there is a story every day about how children are victimized by their own peers. More and more children seem to lack the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes and instead of viewing each other as human beings they view others as objects that they can hurt or tease for their own amusement. A world without empathy is simply terrifying.

So how do we make the change? I truly believe that it starts at home. Not only is this something that needs to be taught but children need us adults to be good role models. As the parent, it is also important not to dismiss your own children’s feelings. We need to be compassionate towards them, rather than just telling them to grow up. It is important to acknowledge their feelings and we need to help them work through them.

Another way we can teach our kids empathy is by limiting and monitoring their exposure to violent media. A child who spends most of their time playing violent video games is at a higher risk of acting violently compared to a child who does not play high violent video games. Through research, it has been proven that these types of games do desensitize children and in turn can destroy empathy for others within them.

Sometimes, just punishing your child for their bad behavior towards others is not good enough. They are not getting the full understanding of the hurt that they caused. It is important to perspective talk with your children. Not only should you explain to them why it was wrong to do what they did but to have them consider how they would feel if they were on the receiving end. There is no skill greater in learning empathy than the ability to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Developing empathy in your children can be directed very early on with unstructured play and facilitating playtime with not only their peers but also with children of different ages. As said in the following website: http://www.schoolguide.co.uk/blog/10-proven-ways-to-help-your-child-do-well-at-school#empathy, when a child participates in unstructured play, it gives them the opportunity to take in considerations and feelings of other children. If they don’t, they will often find themselves playing alone. By playing with children of different ages, older children get to practice their leadership skills while younger children are given a role model to imitate.

Not only does having the ability to be empathetic make your child a better person but will also help them succeed better in school. They will be better at relating to other people and therefore will handle real world situations far greater.

 

About the author:

This guest post was written by Nixies, author at schoolguide.co.uk.

 

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/2U5XBg

 




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