Empathy is the real essence of being human and having the heart for others. Empathy lays the foundation for ethics, etiquette, and loving others around you. It is also a key to preventing several forms of cruelty such as bullying.
Empathy also helps the young kids to succeed in different professions when they grow old. It grows the capacity to see things from other people’s perspective, which is key to teamwork and collaboration. This capacity also helps them in careers such as marketing, politics, and acting. People with such careers often have to consider other people’s perspective before making their point.
People such as torturers and conmen lack empathy, and that is why they take advantage of their victim’s weaknesses and gullibility. On the other hand, empathetic people have compassion and value others along with their opinions.
Are you wondering how you can teach and cultivate empathy as a parent? Here are few professional guidelines to get you started.
Become a role model
Children learn so much from us by watching us. The same works for empathy. When the young kids experience empathy from us, they are able to do the same for others. Empathizing with your children and others around them helps in the development of secure attachments, trust, and openness. These qualities are vital in modeling their behavior and adopting good values.
You can emphasize with your children by attending to their emotional and physical needs, respecting and understanding their personalities, taking a genuine interest in issues they bring to us, appreciating them when they do good and much more.
Send a message that self-happiness is as important as caring for others
You as a parent play a large part in influencing your children to value other people’s perspectives and show compassion for others. It is important that they know that caring about others is as vital as their individual gratification and happiness. It is important that your children know that the world does not revolve around them and that everyone is valued.
Sometimes, it is good to switch off the TV and give them tasks around the house. Do not shout them down when they are trying to explain a point. Always listen and give the appropriate feedback. In addition, let them hear you talk to others about helping a needy child, a wounded pet and so forth.
Provide opportunities where children can practice empathy
Every one of us is born with the capacity for empathy. However, we should nurture it throughout our lives. Nurturing empathy requires practice and correction. Over time, it becomes a natural reflex. At that point, you will not be struggling to show empathy.
When the kids get older, teach them how to work with others. They could be part of a local tree planting organization, take part in cleaning the town, or engage in sports. By responding to community problems, they will internalize empathy.
Help the children expand their circle of empathy
At some point, it’s not about if the children are empathizing; it’s about who they have empathy for. They may not find it hard to empathize with family and close friends but may not have feelings for people outside this circle.
Talk to children about hardships that other people go through. You may use examples on TV and newspapers. Get their reaction from the stories. In addition, give them a chance to help a needy case out of the family circles to appreciate others.
Teach the older kids self-control
Instant gratification is the biggest enemy of empathy. Most people who do not express empathy do so because they have been blinded by prioritizing needs for self ahead of the needs of others. Lack of self-control always results in feelings of anger, shame; jealousy and frustration especially when you do not get what you want.
Teach kids the most important steps to self-control;
- before you do it, stop.
- Take a deep breath and count till five.
- If the action you were to perform was not good. You will not perform it.
Older kids should also be taught how to deal with difficult feelings of sadness, frustration, and anger. Be open to hearing the reasons for doing certain actions before reprimanding them.
Teach them empathy now and watch as they grow to be responsible citizens of tomorrow.
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