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Empathy, or the ability to understand and relate to the emotions of others, is a critical skill for social-emotional learning. We strengthen our relationships, our ability to connect with the world around us, and our appreciation for diversity when we are empathetic with others.

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We feel empathy for someone when we understand their feelings and can comfort and support them. It is important to distinguish between empathy and sympathy (feeling sorry for someone) and altruism (concerning the well-being of others). The ability to understand how another person feels distinguishes empathy from sympathy, altruism, and even compassion, which is a concern for another’s suffering. Empathetic children have a better understanding of themselves. Empathy, like any other social-emotional skill, must be learned and practiced. Here are five suggestions for how parents can assist their children in developing empathy.

1. Set priorities and serve as an example of caring for others.

Understanding and practicing empathy begins with demonstrating that we recognize and care about the feelings of others, whether they are close friends or family members or someone we met at school or the park. As parents, we must prioritize modeling compassion for others. When our feelings are acknowledged and we are cared for by others, we feel supported. Empathy for others is an essential component of that role. Parents can model this behavior at home by recognizing when they have been caring, when their child has been caring, and by asking questions about how they can be caring in the future. We’ve all made mistakes, and acknowledging those mistakes helps your child understand how someone feels when their needs aren’t met.

2. Discuss Your Feelings and Your Child’s Feelings.

When parents discuss their own emotions and acknowledge their children’s emotions, they create a space for empathy.

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We miss out on an opportunity to grow and learn from each other’s perspectives if we don’t do this. If we don’t help each other understand what we’re feeling and why we’re feeling that way, our children will have a harder time empathizing with us, and we will have a harder time empathizing with them. Empathy entails going a step further and asking, “How can I assist?” Parents can discuss their feelings and how small acts of kindness help them feel supported and cared for at home.

3. Give children opportunities to practice empathy.

Children are born with the ability to empathize, but it must be developed throughout their lives. Learning empathy is similar to learning a language or a sport in some ways. It takes practice and direction. It takes practice and direction. Consideration of other people’s perspectives and circumstances regularly helps to make empathy a natural reflex and, through trial and error, helps children improve at tuning into others’ feelings and perspectives.

4. Assist your child in developing self-control and effective emotion management.

When children do not express empathy, it is not always because they lack it. It’s because some emotion or image is preventing them from feeling empathy. Anger, shame, envy, or other negative emotions can often overwhelm one’s ability to care for others.

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Helping children manage their negative emotions, as well as stereotypes and prejudices about others, is frequently what “releases” their empathy.

5. Encourage Peer Relationship Building

Empathy develops and strengthens when we are aware of our social surroundings as well as when we form relationships with others. Inquire about your child’s classmates at school, soccer practice, dance class, and so on. How are things going for them? Your child may recall a classmate who was upset because she fell at practice or he forgot to bring his homework home. You can begin a discussion about their peers’ feelings by asking if your child has ever felt that way and how they can better support them if it happens again or to someone else. Helping your child relate to the feelings of others can help your child form strong relationships with others and connect their shared experiences.

We can begin to see the world through the eyes of another person when we are empathetic. Even if we cannot fully comprehend what it is like to walk in the shoes of another, we can be patient, understanding, and attentive. Your child must develop these social-emotional skills because they will aid in understanding oneself and others. We can be fully present in the face of anyone’s suffering by making emotional connections. We can make the world a better place by harnessing the power of empathy.

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This article was first published on 29th June 2022


Grace Christos Is a content creator with a proven track record of success in content marketing, online reputation management, sales strategy, and so much more.

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