This morning while walking thru our backyard I saw my son Ashley laughing and taunting his younger cousin who fell down on his knees while playing. Honestly, I got a bit concern that my son reacted that way and my conscience immediately told me that I should call his attention and teach him to behave properly.
I asked him what would he feel when his brother and his cousins laugh at him whenever he falls.
It’s hard at first to teach your kids about empathy but I think the greatest key to that is to be a role model and explain to them why that matter thru proper parenting techniques.
Can empathy be taught? How do you teach children of different ages to be empathetic?
(photo credits : Spanglishbaby.com)
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s place and to take that perspective into account in your relationship with the other person. Empathy is caring about the answer to the question, “How would I feel if I were in her shoes?” Unlike skills that require abstract thought, such as mathematics or reading, empathy is a way of relating to others. It cannot be taught formally, but is learned by imitating those who are important to us.
You need to set the example — be empathetic and caring to your child and others, and she will learn. Because she loves you, believes you are perfect, and wants to be just like you, she will grow up wanting to treat herself and others with the same loving kindness she gets from you. By understanding your child’s needs and responding to them in a loving way, you teach her to understand and love herself and to understand and cherish others.
It’s also important to account for your child’s developmental immaturity. Infants and young children normally base their sense of well-being on their ability to get what they want when they want it. The toddler or preschooler who wants a toy will grab it, whether or not it is attached to another child, and she won’t want to share a favorite toy with a friend who asks for it. This is normal behavior for her age, and you do not need to worry that if you don’t come down hard on her she will grow up to be selfish and uncaring.
In reality, your child will not be ready to be a sharing, caring friend until after she turns 3. At that point, she will share because (most of the time) her friends will be more important to her than her possessions. So you don’t need to try to teach your child about the feelings and rights of others. Just continue to love, care for, and enjoy her. By imitating you, she will learn to treat others with the same consideration.