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Empathy is a skill that allows us to connect with others. It is an important skill to develop since it is the ability to understand another person’s perspective and feelings while using that understanding to guide our actions. Empathy allows people to move forward as a society and discontinue the oppressive ways of the past. Today, people are able to enjoy more freedoms, but it still doesn’t mean that the world can use less empathy.
If anything, we need more empathy and it starts with us as parents. We must model empathy and develop that skill within our children. You might wonder how you can do that as parents. Cultivating the skill in your child has to be intentional and purposeful. If you choose to ignore teaching them empathy, it can lead to your child having low emotional intelligence and having the perception they are a jerk or self-centered to put it nicely. I do not believe any parent is hoping for this outcome so it is important to teach empathy from a young age. Let’s discuss the ways to accomplish this feat.
How To Develop Empathy In Children
Practice Apologizing And Changing Behavior
First, I want to highlight the importance of apologizing to others. When you apologize to another person, it shows that you care. It shows that you have an understanding on how your action caused them to be inconvenienced. After you apologize, it is important to try your best to not repeat the action.
When you model this for your child, it teaches them the importance of being respectful to others and having healthy boundaries. It teaches them to be accountable for their actions and developing healthy relationships. Without doing this, your child can be seen as callous, petty, and stubborn. Furthermore, people who apologize but choose not to change their behavior can be seen as manipulative. These are negative behaviors that you would not want your child to pick up and it starts with you as a parent.
Next, I want to highlight the importance of donating when developing empathy. People seek donations for others who are in need. Being able to donate shows that you have an understanding that someone else might be having a hard time and you want to help. Showing your child the importance of donating will teach them to help others who are in need even if that person is a stranger.
Sometimes, you may not have the means to donate and that is okay. However, volunteering your time can help make up for that. Helping others through your actions communicates that it is important to provide assistance to those in need. Providing aid also provides an opportunity for your child to see how their actions can have a positive impact on others. People typically express gratitude when someone volunteers which allows your child to see their direct actions make others happy. All of these reasons will have a direct impact on building empathy in our children.
Random Acts of Kindness
Providing random acts of kindness to others is a way to make others feel good. If your child sees you doing this, it will teach them how critical it is to brighten someone else’s day. It teaches them that they can have a direct impact on making someone’s life easier whether it is in the short-term or long-term. This allows your child to have an understanding of making someone else feel good which relates to building empathy.
What is the one thing that people do not like in general? They do not like to feel ignored. Actively listening and showing genuine interest in what they have to say makes others feel good. When you learn the little details about about another person’s life, it communicates that you care about them. Modeling and having your child practice active listening skills is a surefire way to allow them to become more empathetic towards others.
Lastly, I want to place an emphasis on providing compliments to others. Giving a compliment to someone else does a couple of things for others. First, it communicates that you recognize the hard work someone put into the very thing you are complimenting. More importantly, it makes someone else feel good about themselves which is the goal for providing compliments. If you as a parent provide compliments for others, your child will see this and copy that behavior.
In conclusion, parents want their children to develop healthy habits throughout their lives. One of those healthy habits is building the skill of empathy. Empathy allows us to understand other’s perspectives and build healthy relationships. I do not know any parents who want their child to be a toxic individual and influencing your child to be empathetic can prevent this from happening.
What other suggestions or parenting tips do you have for developing empathy in your children? Please comment down below so we can all learn the many different ways this can be achieved.
Cameron is the creator of Supportive Fathers. He created Supportive Fathers as a way to help explore topics other dads encounter in everyday life. Cameron is very passionate about being a father to 2 year old daughter as well as being the husband possible to his wife. To read more of his story, please click here.