8 Meaningful Ways to Teach Empathy

A little girl holding a flower and smiling showing empathy
Empathy.  A good definition for kids may be the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.  As adults, we know the importance of feeling heard and hearing others.  When we are heard by others, we feel connected and understood.  Empathy takes that one step further, as our feelings are not only heard, but also understood and shared by others.  Empathy is powerful because it can comfort, calm, and diffuse intense situations.  It helps others not to jump to conclusions and aids in people getting along.  If we can teach this skill to our children, we can create more harmonious and peaceful

interactions.  If a child is able to put themselves in another child's shoes, they may think twice before causing harm.  And that is the goal, isn't it?  Teaching children to be thoughtful people who care about and get along with others.  Sometimes that goal is easier said than done.  There will always be bumps in the road, but teaching children to be empathetic people is an important piece of the puzzle.  Here are some tips to help teach children empathy:

  1. Read - Read books with children that focus on another person's point of view and feelings.
  2. Observe - Teach children to observe the person or situation they are trying to understand.  They will gain insights into the situation through observation.
  3. Remember - Encourage children to remember a time when they felt the same way as the person they are trying to understand.
  4. Imagine - Encourage children to imagine how they would feel if they were that person.  What would it be like to "walk in that person's shoes?"
  5. Ask - Tell children to ask how that person feels. 
  6. Listen - Teach children how to actively listen.  Some active listening skills include:  Providing feedback to the person so they know you have heard them, using appropriate body language, and not interrupting.
  7. Take Action - Encourage children to do something to show they care about the person.
  8. Model - Model empathy in your interactions towards others and towards children.
I have prepared an Empathy Packet that may be used by teachers, school counselors, parents and homeschooling parents, social workers, speech therapists, and other specialists.  Included in this packet are activities, printables, posters and awards.  To see full details, click here.

An empathy teaching packet with printables, worksheets, and posters


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