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Wellbeing pages - Empathy

Across the Globe

In a world where most are only concerned with their own best interests, empathy can be a unique trait that we find in people. However, those who are able to understand the feelings of others are often the ones who experience the most meaningful lives, and most meaningful relationships.

What is empathy?

It’s not just the ability to understand someone’s feelings, but also valuing and respecting the feelings of another person. It means treating others with kindness and understanding.

Demonstrating empathy to your children and in front of your children is a great step towards raising them to be kind and caring adults. Here are a few tips on how you can teach your child to recognize the emotions and feel for those around them.

Children need to see adults show empathy.

While some children are gifted with naturally kind hearts, in most cases they need to see empathy modelled by the adults around them. It begins very early in life, with the way parents relate to their children and each other. Parents who respond to emotions in a positive, understanding way, are teaching their children empathy.

Meeting emotional needs.

When children have their emotional needs met, two things happen: they learn the importance of meeting the emotional needs of others and they feel secure enough to express empathy towards others when the need arises.

Talking with children about emotions.

It’s important to talk to your children about emotions and how other people experience them. Give them names (e.g. love, anger, jealousy, sadness…) and teach them that these are normal. Talk to them about how to handle emotions in a positive way and point out situations where other people may experience them. Teach them about respecting how other people feel and show them how to act in a situation where a response is required. Look for real-life examples – situations that affect another person (e.g. ambulance speeding past), and talk about what it means to the people involved and how they might feel.

Teaching your children the difference between right and wrong from a very young age gives them a strong internal moral compass that will direct them to make good choices. In situations that require a decision, help them to see how our choices and behaviour (good and bad) affect others. You can start talking to them about things close to home, like calling a sibling an unkind name. When building a strong moral foundation, it’s good to begin with the basics.

Above all, teaching your children empathy is a worthwhile investment for their own futures and for the world they will inhabit.

                                                                                    Elizabeth Rawson-Jones

                                                                                    PYP counsellor

Wellbeing pages - Empathy
  • PYP
Wellbeing pages - Empathy
  • PYP
  • Wellbeing