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How to Encourage Empathy in your Child

Empathy is an important lesson to teach your children. They will interact better with friends, family and others if they are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes. The following tips can help you encourage this quality in your children.

Talk to them about empathy

You want to introduce your children to the concept of empathy. Explain what it is. Explain why it is so important to consider others’ feelings and emotions when deciding what to say and how to act. Use examples of when they want others to feel empathy for them. Talk about how they feel when other kids are inconsiderate of their feelings.

Read books related to empathy

Many children’s books visit the topic of empathy. They may show a character learning to be empathetic. They may show how it feels when someone is kind to you and what happens when they are not. Your children may relate to these characters and want to be like them. They may start to think more about empathy if a character they look up to does.

In addition to reading books about empathy, you can look at videos that explore this as well. Many children’s televisions programs and movies have this as an element.

Role play empathy

If you feel like your child learns better by doing than just by hearing you lecture, then you can role play a situation in which your child shows empathy. You can make it like a little play. They can practice being empathetic so that they will know the right way to behave when real world situations arise.

Reward them when they show empathy

Children like to be rewarded for good behavior. When you see them showing empathy, then you can reward them. It may be something as simple as giving verbal praise. You can talk to others about their good deeds. You may want to even give them a tangible reward such as a little treat or present. They may be more likely to display this behavior again in order to get the reward.

If they are particularly inconsiderate, then you can also call them out on it. Discuss why their behavior was not good and how they can change it to make it better.

The exact technique you use to encourage empathy will depend on the age and maturity of the child. Try a variety of techniques to maximize your children’s understanding of this principle.