How to teach your children about empathy

Shutterstock.com/ Dmytro Zinkevych

In the work environment, most things can be learned. If someone is hired to present key findings of financial reports they will need to learn how to present, will need to learn how to interpret finances, and many more things. These things can all be learned. What is clear in the working environment is that some things can’t be learned. Emotional intelligence is one thing that if a coworker or client doesn’t have they will rarely figure out. It is something that is learned from a young age and is the key difference between people that are understanding of others and those that simply aren’t. It is important then that you focus on teaching this key skill to your children from the very beginning. We are here to help.

How to teach a baby empathy

It might sound silly but these lessons start from the moment you interact with your baby. When you are changing a dirty nappy you will make eye contact with your baby, soothe them, smile at them, all while making something uncomfortable disappear. All this does is show your baby the importance of social interaction. This is a key building block for them to learn the importance of empathy later in life.

How to teach a young child about empathy

At a young age, children are naturally selfish. They only understand the world from their perspective. This does not make them a bad person, this is just how children understand the world. It is important that you show them an alternative view. The best way to teach empathy to young children is by showing them empathic behavior. A key issue with children at this age is that they learn how to act based on whether they will get in trouble or not, not because it is the right way to act. To address this you should take the time to talk through any decisions and show children that sometimes we do things not because we are afraid of getting in trouble but because it is right. A great tip here is to read stories and discuss the feelings of each character and how others could have helped.

How to teach grade-schoolers about empathy

As your child gets older they can start to understand more complex problems. In school, they are being slowly introduced to more difficult mathematical concepts. At home, you can start to ensure they understand empathy a little more. At this stage, your child is likely trying to come to terms with a lot of strange feelings. They may be feeling anxiety and fear for the first time. Talk to them about it. Show them how it is important to understand other peoples’ feelings by talking through theirs. Again, it is important to lead by example.

How to teach teenagers about empathy

Teenagers are a whole new ball game. They are starting to question everything about life and you need to be there to support and guide them but also allow them to question the world and realize things themselves. The best way to teach teenagers about empathy is to give them life experiences. Bring them to places where people need their help. Show them their worth. Whether that is a soup kitchen or a charity drive, show them that it is important that they use their time and experience to help others.

How to teach adults about empathy

By now if you have never taught your child about empathy it is going to be very difficult. A lifetime of uncaring behavior is very difficult to untangle but that is no reason to give up. Try to show them the hard truths of the world and how important it is that people are there for each other. Hopefully, it is not too late.