Tips for Teaching Children Empathy Part 1

Our world seems to be on the way to becoming less empathetic. In some ways, we are busier than ever, but this is not an excuse. We have to take the time to remember that we are all connected. This would be a good time to reread my article on that topic.

Am I the only one who feels like we value these electronic things in the palm of our hand more than we do the people who are communicating with us through those very same electronics?

One of the best ways we can slow down and model for the children in our lives the importance of our connection to this world is by taking care of other things in our lives. Do you garden? Give children their own little plot that they are responsible for watching over. Or give them a couple of plants. One of the best things to give them is a pet. Yes, I know as a parent myself, this ultimately becomes work for you too, but these are great tools for building empathy.

The opportunity to be responsible for how well something thrives (or doesn’t thrive) sends a clear message to the minds of kids. We are all responsible for something outside of ourselves. In addition to empathy, this teaches kids about responsibility. Empathy and responsibility go hand in hand with being a good human being. I often hear parents comment that they want their children to be good humans, but this is not something we can just talk about. We have to commit our words to action. Model the behavior you want to see as often as possible.

It’s that old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do”. I want my children to do as I say and I want them to see that I also do what I say.

If you do not have time to deal with a pet or a full on garden, that’s okay. Pets and gardens are daily work. On the weekend bake bread for a friend and deliver it to them. Take a plate of dinner to an elderly neighbor. Offer to cut the grass for someone who has not been able to get around to taking care of their yard yet. Whatever you do try to be consistent and explain why your actions and the fact that we are all connected is important. Show the loved ones in your life, especially littles, that tending to living things is a higher priority for you than responding to texts and emails all day and night.