Empathy is the ability to see things from another person’s perspective and understand that person’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Empathy has long been viewed as an important social skill that helps children learn how to interact with others in positive ways and helps them grow into healthy adults who make the world around them a better place. However, the development of empathy can be difficult in children, and there are many factors that can help or hinder it. Learn how to teach your child empathy in this guide on empathy for kids.
How Children Develop Empathy
Empathy is a skill that develops as your child matures. To start, early in childhood (ages 2-4), kids begin to understand basic feelings like sadness and anger, but it’s not until ages 7-10 that they can imagine what others are thinking or feeling. At age 12, kids start taking on more adult roles in their relationships with peers; by 16 years old, they are able to develop more complicated feelings—like empathy—and better manage those emotions.
Helping Children Understand the World Around Them
Children develop empathy as they grow older. But what is empathy, and how can we help children understand others’ feelings? Read on to learn more about empathy, why it’s important for kids, and how you can teach your child about empathy. Then take our quiz to test your knowledge!
What Are the Benefits of Teaching Our Children Compassion?
Research indicates that kids who learn empathy are more likely to become adults who don’t commit crimes. The roots of compassion are planted by our families, so teach your child how to be kind from a young age. Simply start by showing her how it feels to be in someone else’s shoes; for example, try going out of your way each day to perform one act of kindness.
5 Fun Ways To Foster Compassion In Kids
Children learn best by example, so it’s important for adults to show them that empathy is important. What does it mean to be empathetic? A high level of empathy means you are able to understand how someone else is feeling and why they feel that way. This requires active listening on your part as well as deep thought about what your child may be experiencing. To help foster compassion in kids, here are five fun activities you can use at home or even with a group of children.
- Play-Doh Reactions:
Give each child a cup of play-doh and tell them they have one minute to make themselves happy using only their hands. Then, tell them that now they have two minutes to make someone else happy with their hands (but no talking). Encourage everyone to share what made them happy/unhappy when time is up!
- Two Truths and a Lie:
- Design a Toy
- Empathy Stations
- Night in a Stranger’s Shoes
This is an activity that takes place over several days, so be sure to plan accordingly! Have your child spend one night at a friend or family member’s house as if they were staying there permanently. The next day, have them explain how they felt staying at someone else’s house. Did they feel comfortable? Did they miss their own bed? Did they feel like they belonged?