Empathy in children is linked to stronger relationship skills. Strong relationships help a person feel happy. Teaching children to care for others is a great way to help children be happy when they are older. There are a variety of strategies to build empathy in children.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings.
What we know:
- When children are asked to think about how other children feel, it can help them to better understand and share someone else’s feelings.
- Children who can see and know how someone else feels are more likely to get along with other people.
- When children consider how other people feel, they are more likely to reach out and help others.
Many children believe that their parents value success more than being a caring person. You can show your child that it is important to you that they care about other people. Share age-appropriate news stories with your children and start a conversation. News sites for children like TIME for Kids allow you to filter news by age group and find news for your age child. Read stories like this TIME for Kids article about Hurricane Harvey with your child and talk about it together. Ask:
- How do you think those children felt during the storm? Why?
- How do you think you would feel if you lost your home and all your things?
- What can we do to help?
Try this too:
You can use your child’s life to help him think about how other people feel. When your child says that there is a new kid at school you can ask, “How do you think it feels to be in a new place? How do you think it feels to not know anyone?” By talking about other children’s problems, you build empathy and help your child begin to see how other people feel when things are new or difficult.
Print this as a 1-page handout (A Little Caring Goes a Long Way, PDF).