How to teach a child to empathize?
Empathy is a character trait that has a positive effect on both adults and children. Therefore, it is important for parents to teach the child sympathy, and raise him as a caring person. Lack of empathy in children leads to poor social interactions at school, at home, and later in adulthood. If a child is not taught compassion for other people, he will not be able to distinguish between his feelings and the feelings of others. In addition, he may not be able to regulate or control emotional responses to certain situations. Which will often lead to various problems.
Why is it important to develop empathy in children
Children who are taught empathy early on can easily adapt to situations in life that require a positive emotional response. For example, if your child’s friend is crying because he took his toy or some other thing. Then if you raised the child incorrectly, he can leave with her and start playing in another place. Which is not right. Therefore, you should teach your child empathy, and tell how to behave in such situations. Using empathy, or conscious empathy for others, can help your child understand how his friend is feeling. And what should he do in order not to create conflicts, and maintain a good relationship with another child. Empathy means that the child:
- He understands that he is different from the people around him. And that other people can have their own feelings and views;
- Can better recognize his own feelings and the feelings of others;
- Is able to better regulate his own emotional reactions;
- Able to put himself in the place of another person, and imagine how he might feel;
- Will better understand what actions or responses can help the person feel better.
Tell your child how to read body signals
Learning to read non-verbal cues in communication is the key to building healthy relationships. Thanks to this skill, we understand how to react to people’s behavior, and what they can hide from us. As adults, we practice this skill almost every day when we interact with people. We see that when a person is frowning or angry, we understand that he may have some kind of problem. As a result, we can build a correct conversation with this person. And find the right approach to it, based on various non-verbal clues. Children can be taught to read body language through books and role play. By studying various facial expressions in this way, we will help the child to form an understanding of how the person is feeling. And this will help him to respond appropriately to human behavior.
Understanding feelings is not the easiest thing to explain to children. But it might be a little easier to do this using body language. There are several ways to teach your child empathy using body language and facial expressions. You can find the corresponding facial expressions in the photographs and explain them to your child. You can use role play or other fun ways to show your child compassion.
Use games to teach your child empathy
Find different pictures of children expressing their emotions. Print these images, then have your child play with you. Place the cards face down on the table and ask the child to remove the top card from the deck. Then ask your child to identify what emotions the person is showing on the card. Encourage him to use his reading skills for eyes, lips, hands, mouth, and so on. Just keep in mind that he can give more than one answer depending on the facial expression (for example, joy, anger or surprise). Add some fun and intrigue to this activity. Tell the child that they will be rewarded if they do the assignments carefully. And of course, do not forget to help him with certain tips during the game. And remember that your main goal is to help your child learn to read facial expressions.
If your child is younger, say two years old or younger. Using toys such as dolls or cars will help the child better understand other people’s feelings. For example, have your child swing or hug the doll and talk to her about how the doll might feel. Here’s an example of your conversation:
You say, “Look, your doll is crying!” The child replies, “Is my doll crying?” You: “Yes, I see her tears. This means that she is sad. How can we make her feel better? ” The child is silent. Or he can just look at the doll or your face for a clue. Then you say: “Take her in your arms and shake her. I think it will help her feel better. ”
That being said, use a lot of emotions in your conversation with your child and describe them. The better you describe emotions to your child, the better he will be able to remember them.
Show empathy in your daily life
The best way to teach a child empathy is through role models. Begin to show empathy in your daily life. Especially when your child is around. If you are listening to a sad story, you can express your feelings about the situation. If you are watching a movie or TV show that depicts a problem or tragedy, you can discuss it with your child. You need to explain to him how the person should feel at this moment. Older children understand empathy better, especially if they have siblings. For example, when there are some quarrels between them over toys, or someone falls down and cries. You should tell them to sympathize with the brother or sister. Because they may find themselves in the same situation.
If you work with your child regularly and try to develop empathy in him. Then you will see how he or she will begin to provide positive support to other children. Will become more responsive and have more friends. After all, empathy does lead to healthy and well-balanced relationships.