When it comes to teaching kids empathy, what you say and what you do matters. If your preschooler is not empathetic, they will be more likely to bully others or act aggressively towards them. On the other hand, if they are taught empathy at a young age, then chances are that they will grow up to be caring adults who care about others' feelings and emotions. Teaching empathy to preschoolers can start as early as infancy with simple interactions like reading books together or singing songs about another person's feelings.
What is empathy?
Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else feels, thinks, and wants. It involves 'standing in another's shoes' and feeling what they are feeling. It means that you can see things from their perspective- not just your own.
Why do kids need to have empathy?
Every kid needs empathy because it teaches them what to expect in life. When kids have empathy, they are not going to be selfish or rude. They will understand what is right and wrong and what the consequences of their actions can bring about. Kids need this skill at a young age if they want to grow up into kind people who are respected by others.
Emotional intelligence is what kids need to have empathy - and it's what you teach them in your home, whether they're preschoolers or teenagers. If a kid feels safe at home, this skill will be more effortless to learn because they know their parents will protect them if needed. This emotional awareness comes from what they see and say to them, so watch your words.
How to teach kids what is empathy?
It is important to empathize with your child. Understand what the child is feeling and show that you know how he feels. So how can you be teaching empathy to preschoolers? How will they understand what is empathy?
This stage of development can be difficult for parents, as children have limited verbal communication skills but are rapidly learning what they need to function within their environment. Parents should make an effort to communicate with the toddler or young preschooler. So to break it down and make it easier here are a couple of things you can do:
1. Talk to them about other's feelings.
Make them aware that what they feel matters and what others are feeling also does. How will they know what is empathy if they cannot understand how to talk about their feelings.
2. You can learn about what is happening with other children
Through observation, you will be able to see what emotions your child may have picked up on or witnessed during playtime at daycare.
3. Help them understand empathy in situations where there's a conflict
Try to help them find the problem to find a solution since it's not always easy for them to understand what they did wrong.
4. Make them read stories about feelings.
Many children's books depict what emotions look like and what they should do when they feel a certain way.
5. Play empathy games
Playtime is an excellent opportunity to act out different emotions together, such as what it looks like to be angry or sad.
6. Help them understand that everyone makes mistakes sometimes
Since this can be difficult for kids at times to understand, it might be a good idea to explain what happens when someone does something wrong – they take on the feeling of guilt and try their best not to do anything like that again.
7. Listen to them
This is still one of the most important things you can help your child with as they grow up - learning how to listen and what to do with what they hear.
8. Be patient
This is hard for adults, let alone children! But everyone has good days and bad days – sometimes we feel like listening, and other times it just feels too difficult because of whatever else might be going on in our lives.
9. Try not to get angry at them
What you don't want to do is yell at them and get angry. This makes it harder for your child to understand what they did wrong, what the right thing was and what needs to happen next time.
10. Don't be afraid of saying sorry
There will always come the point where children make mistakes – but what's important is what happens next. Apologizing when you know that you did something wrong and teaching your child to say sorry too makes them feel better about what happened and shows empathy towards others. Empathy does not necessarily mean taking the blame for everything – but it means if a mistake has been made by someone else, then what needs to happen next is what's most important.
Building empathy is a lot of work, but it's worth the effort. Teaching your kids to be empathetic encourages them to see other people as humans, not just obstacles or problems they need to overcome. The more we teach our children about what others are going through and how their actions affect others, the better equipped they will be for life outside of the home, where many decisions require understanding other points of view to make good choices. We hope these tips have been helpful and encourage you to find ways that fit into your family's needs!