Empathy is one of those words that has been abuzz in the parenting and educational communities recently. And for good reason. There are a growing number of studies that show that children who display empathy are less likely to engage in antisocial behaviors like aggression and bullying and more likely to share, help others, and engage in more social interactions. Babies as young as 8-14 months have shown natural precursors to empathy and the older they get the more they are able to empathize. Preschool and kindergarten age children can benefit greatly from activities that encourage their empathetic development. Here are a few ways you can easily foster empathy in your child.
Having a Pet
Family pets, anything from fish to felines, can be useful in teaching children how to care for others. Research also suggests that people who have an attachment to a pet are naturally more empathetic.
You don’t have to have a garden to encourage your child’s social-emotional growth. Even planting a seed and nurturing it with a little daily water and some sunlight can teach them a new appreciation for life.
Empathy and gratitude go hand in hand. Showing gratitude and saying thanks to the waitress who brings their food, the sanitation worker who picks up the trash every week, or anyone that contributes to their community is a great way to open their eyes to the value of each person.
Connecting with Others
Bullying often occurs because of a lack of understanding for people who may be different than them. It’s important to open their eyes to different people, cultures, even countries so they can better relate to people with a context.
Focusing on the Individual
The best way to foster empathy in your child is to remember that they are an individual. There is not one-size fits all approach. Be a role model and find those natural spur of the moment lessons that your child will benefit the most from.
Empathetic learning is ingrained in our beliefs here at Tender Years, we believe that children learn from experiences with people of all ages, races, religious beliefs and physical abilities. Our ACE customized curriculum is specifically designed to encompass the individual child’s social emotional development with lessons that encourage the growth of the whole child.