Activating empathy in children

Looking at how the world is right now, we can tell that empathy is a skill our generation is highly in need of. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feeling of another. If we really try to understand the feelings of another, we would judge less, love more and treat others how we would love them to treat us.  

Whether kids would be empathic or not, is largely determined by the training they get from their parents or guardians. Also make sure you treat your kids right. It is easier for kids that experience love and kindness, to show love and kindness to people.

Asking questions like;

How would I feel if someone said to me, what I am about to say to this person?

If I was treated like this, would I be happy?

Asking questions that let you put yourself in other people’s shoes goes a long way.

Empathy does not cost a dime, we need to teach it to children. When they know better, they do better and grow up to become better adults who treat people right. The world would be better than what we see today.

Here a few ways you can raise children with empathy.

Call their attention to their behavior towards others. When kids act right towards others, commend them for it. Maybe not all the time, but do it from time to time. Let them know that what they have done is good, so that they can be encouraged to keep it up. Also, when their action towards others is wrong, let them know it should not be repeated. Educate them on the importance of being of good behavior and treating people well no matter their status

Educate them on bullying. This is very important because bullying starts from a very young age and it is so common among children. It is either a child is being bullied or he is the bully. It is very rare to find children who do not belong to any of these sides. There are children who are bullies and also experience bullying too. Bullying is a persistent act intended to make life unpleasant for another. Let your children know that bullying is wrong. Educating them on the effect of bullying can stop them from being a bully. It can also help them understand the bully when they are being bullied. A bully does not stop when you are silent. Let your kids know they can confide in you even when someone tries to bully them. Let them know it is okay to report a bully, but it is not okay to be one. Bullies lack empathy and that is why children must be taught empathy.

Share your experiences with them. Sitting with them and sharing personal experiences that teaches empathy really helps children build empathy. They may not understand the motive behind what you share but you know why it is important for you to share these experiences.  The experiences of how an act of kindness made you so happy. How someone who could have made a process hard for you decided to make it easier. It could also be experiences that promotes empathy on your part.

Lead by example. Children learn more from what we do than what we say. Show them what empathy is through your actions towards them and others. If you often act like you do not care about others, they see it. If you care about others, they see it too. Do not leave your children wondering if you care about them at all. Before you speak to them, think of what you want to say to them and how it may affect them. This simple act of putting their feelings into consideration would help you treat them better, and also help them feel better about themselves. When they do something wrong, make them understand that it is not them that you do not like, but what they have done wrong.

Kindness and compassion increases and bullying and oppression decreases with empathy. No child who was raised to be empathic would grow up to intentionally hurt others because he is more powerful, more privileged or because he feels his skin color makes him better than others with a different skin color. Empathy is what would drive kindness, respect and all the moral virtues that we care so much about.  

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