What is empathy, exactly? It’s not pity… or passive. Empathy involves both emotion and action. For our kids, it’s an acquired skill- one that needs our guidance and encouragement to be cultivated. Here’s how to model and teach empathetic behavior.
What is empathy, exactly? It involves both emotion and action. For our kids, it’s an acquired skill- one that needs our guidance and encouragement to be cultivated. Here’s how to model and teach empathetic behavior.
In this episode we discuss why empathy needs to be taught in the first place, when is the right age to start, the difference between pity and empathy, and how becoming more empathetic can benefit yourself (and your own kids) just as it benefits others.
Amy Webb says that establishing sameness is a great place to start:
"Once your child has some understanding that some people are different, now is a great time to find some common ground: 'I bet she likes a lot of the same toys/games/food that you like.' You can then ask the child or the child’s caregiver what they like to do. Establishing sameness is KEY. This is when the light goes on and children realize, 'Oh, she’s just another kid, like me. We are more alike than different!'"
Here are links to research and other writing on empathy that we discuss in this episode:
Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness is an award-winning book for school-aged children about what happens when empathy is not chosen
Amy Webb for A Cup of Jo: How To Navigate a Special Needs Encounter
Katie Hurley for Scary Mommy: How Can I Teach My Child Empathy?
Sumathi Reddy for the Wall Street Journal: Little Children and Already Acting Mean
Dr. Chris McCarthy: Turn Around Anxiety
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