As an empath, I can tell you that showing empathy to others can make a big difference in how they receive your words. If you show no compassion when talking to an individual who is having a hard time, then they are more likely to continue feeling the same way. If you go out of your way to be empathetic to their situation, then those who are involved will see that you really care. Even a stranger will be able to express feelings of kindness and appreciation when they see that you are empathetic to their situation.
As a parent, I always try to teach my children that empathy is important in life. The feelings that one person is experiencing can cause a chain reaction that will affect them as well as other people who cross their paths. If your child can put themselves in the shoes of others, they will be able to better understand the world that they live in. How can you teach your child empathy? Let’s take a look at a few of the methods that I try to use.
- First and foremost, you must always show your child how to be empathetic by being empathetic yourself. Try your best to see the world through the eyes of others so that your child can see that you are showing empathy. Children typically learn by mimicking what we do, so lead by example.
- Make it a point to hold conversations in your home about empathy. It may seem like a meaningless exercise, but remember that your children are listening to you, even when you are not aware that they are being so attentive. Don’t only talk to others about empathy. If your child is in the room, make sure to try to include them in the conversation. Ask them how they think that their friend felt when she fell down on the playground. Ask them how they think they could make their friend feel better.
- Instead of keeping conversations to a small scale, ask your child about issues that are bigger. If a homeless individual is asking for some food, talk to your child about it. Ask them how they would feel if they did not have a warm, comfortable bed to sleep in every night. Explain that the reason that the person is asking for help is that they need some food to eat.
Ask your child how they would feel if they did not have enough food to eat for days, and then ask them how they think that they could help. Let them come up with the idea; they will most likely want to give them some food, so take your child to get something for them to eat, and then let them give the food to the person in need. This type of lesson is one that they will not forget.
- Never forget that all emotions are legitimate feelings, which means that one is not any less important than the rest. Let your child know that you acknowledge their feelings, no matter how small they may seem to you. Validate the emotions that they are feeling, and then ask them what can be done to make them feel better. If they know that you care about their feelings, then they will know that putting someone down because of their feelings is not acceptable.
Explain the different feelings that your child is experiencing so that what they are feeling is not frightening to them. It can be tough feeling embarrassed, frustrated, and scared at the same time, but if your child is aware of the feelings, then facing them can be an easier task, especially for a younger child.
- Allow your child to see your feelings. When you make a mistake, be sure to apologize so that your child can see that it is only human to have feelings. This gives them the chance to show empathy to you. Giving your little one a chance to practice empathy is an important part of teaching them about it.
There are a number of ways that they can learn to be empathetic, so anytime you see that life presents a learning opportunity for your child, take advantage of it and be a great teacher that they will appreciate as they grow. Some of the ways that I try to give my children practice is by organizing a food drive for the community. Together, we take the time to search the cabinets for canned foods that we do not need, and then we donate them to those who need them more.
My children also look through their toys and clothes with me to see if there is anything that does not fit them anymore or any toys that they do not play with. Ask them if they have anything that they would like to give to little boys or girls who don’t have toys to play with, and then donate what they offer.