Empathy is the ability to be able to put oneself in the shoes of others and understand their feelings and emotions. When one grows to be more empathic, it enables them to work better in social situations – regardless of being at school or work. Such is the case because by being able to understand others, they are then able to respond appropriately and work well together with others.
Research has shown that when children learn to be more empathic from young, it can lead to them developing stronger skills in empathy later in life when they become adults. (1) Hence, it is important to start developing empathy in your child from young so that they will grow up to become a kind person who treats others with respect.
How to develop empathy in your children?
Talk about other people’s feelings
You need to let your children know that what they are doing may not be pleasant to other people. One way is to explicitly name out the feelings other people may feel as a result of their actions. By asking them, “How would you feel…?”, it helps your children learn how it is to be in the other’s shoes. In this way, they would not repeat their unpleasant behaviour as they understand how it feels to be treated like that.
Be a role model
Children tend to learn from the people around them. They learn how to interact with people by watching the actions of their parents. Thus, it is vital for you to be a role model. Set a good example for your children by showing them what it means to be an empathic person. If they see you showing love and kindness to the people around you and those who are in need, they are more likely to model the same behaviours.
Empathy is not a fixed trait. It is something that cultivates over time. However, it is essential for you to be patient as developing empathy takes time. Start helping your child to develop empathy from young where having strong empathy skills can set them up for success in life.