Empathy is a skill that is considered to be at the heart of humankind, yet it is not a skill or ability that comes automatically in everyday interactions.
As parents and teachers, it is important that we cultivate empathy in our children. By teaching our children how to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, they learn how to not always see things from their own perspective, but to also value other people’s opinions and feelings as much as they value their own.
Teaching your children how to show empathy can be a tough task, but you would be surprised to know that children as little as 18 months have the ability to learn how to tune in to other people’s feelings.
By the time your kid turns 4, he or she not only has the ability to make physical caring gestures, but can now begin to compare other people’s feelings in relation to his own.
When we fail to teach kids about empathy, what we see is a society full of children with low levels of empathy, which is characterized by bullying, youth violence, weak moral reasoning, mental health issues, and cheating.
The Empathy Activity
We at Havan school have come up with an activity on empathy with the goal of teaching children in the shelter home how to show empathy and kindness towards others.
· To foster understanding and kindness in the kids
· To teach the kids how to appreciate people who are different from them.
· To equip the kids with skills and abilities that will enable them wto ork with others and cooperate effectively in the future.
· To help the kids increase their emotional intelligence and reduce aggression
In this activity, the children are taught about the essence and importance of empathy. In order for them to learn how to be compassionate, the children are divided in pairs and they are asked to share with each other a story about the most painful experience they have ever had.
After sharing in pairs, the role of each kid is now to imagine him/herself in the friend’s situation and draw the x-ray scan of the friend. This helps them bring out the picture of how it feels to be in pain, angry or depressed.
Importance of Educating Children About Empathy
We believe that this lesson will make the children less likely to hurt and more likely to help their friends because it teaches them how to imagine themselves in their friend’s situation. It also gives them an opportunity to share their friend’s thoughts and feelings. The children get to understand, for instance, how other children feel when they are bullied and how they would feel if they were bullied.
Since the children get to learn and understand what it feels like inside when they help and show kindness to others, and also how it feels they hurt others feelings, they now become more prepared in becoming helpful bystanders.
It is our role as parents, teachers, and caring adults to teach and encourage children to develop empathy and generosity toward others.
Kids must be taught about empathy for them to be able to handle problems of the 21st Century.