Empathy is a life skill that children need to know. Some children naturally have it and others don’t seem to. If the latter is the case it needs to be taught. Children need to understand other people’s feelings and how to act appropriately towards those feelings.
I have been asked to help children to be more empathetic and more often than not, that involves input from mum or dad. It is important that they are involved as we need parents to model empathy to their child.
Parents can do this by acknowledging and valuing others’ feelings, and showing understanding and sympathy when someone is sad or upset, frustrated etc. They can also;
How Parents Can Model Empathy
Talk to their children about different feelings and how they can support people with those feelings. How can they be empathetic? What can they say to people who are sad, upset or going through a bad time? What can they do to help? Could they offer to help? Could they offer solutions or just a listening ear?
Empathise when their own children are feeling sad or frustrated so the children get the chance to experience how empathy feels.
Notice when their child exhibits empathy and comment on it. Or, if there is lack of it shown in a tv show discuss the situation.
Role model empathy to each other – hugging or comforting the other partner when they need it.
These are just a few ideas on how parents can model empathy to their child. We cannot expect children to be emphatic if they haven’t experienced it or seen it themselves.
What else would you add to these suggestions?