Kids have a lot to learn. Among the needs to teach academic skills such as math or reading, sometimes teaching your kids about emotional health can get left in the background. It’s just as important to teach kids empathy and other emotional skills as it is to teach them how to read.
While teaching a nebulous concept like empathy may seem somewhat daunting, with a little strategic implementation, you can show your child what healthy empathy looks like. A few good choices on your part will plant the idea in your child’s mind. Let’s look at a few simple ways you can begin teaching empathy to your children.
Model Empathy for Your Child
Did your little one just fall over and start crying for the tenth time today? Pick them up, give them a band-aid if they need one, and tell them you’ve felt just as upset before. Talk your child down from high emotion to a place of calm. By meeting your child’s emotional needs and demonstrating empathy toward them in their situation, they’ll begin to emulate that same behavior.
Label Your Feelings and Theirs
Help your child understand what they’re feeling and put a name to it. For instance, if they’re mad after a toy breaks, label their feelings as anger and help them understand how to deal with this emotion. Don’t be afraid to be open about your emotions as well. If your child observes you being open about and in touch with your full range of feelings, they’re likely to be comfortable with their own feelings as well.
Pro Tip: Encouraging emotional awareness and growth has the added bonus of boosting your child’s self-confidence! The more content they are with their emotions, the more mentally healthy your child will be.
Teach Your Child to Recognize Cues
Whether in a real-life experience or while watching a movie, encourage your child to observe others’ behavior, word choices, and body language. What sort of emotional signs are they sending? How are they most likely feeling? Most importantly, how do you relate to someone who feels that way? Encourage your child to consider these questions for themselves and learn to read others.
Give Your Child a Job to Do
Very young children can have a hard time focusing on someone other than themselves, leading to empathy problems later on. You can prevent this from happening by giving your child a specific task to complete, possibly involving caring for something else. For instance, have your child help you make a snack or take care of a plant. By using their energy for an external project, your child will learn to consider others’ feelings and needs.
Helping Your Child Develop Empathy
Encouraging your child to develop their emotional relations with others doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By modeling good empathy and not shying away from negative emotions, you can demonstrate to your child what emotional health looks like. Teach your kids empathy from a young age to encourage healthy emotional development as they grow.
Connect with us to learn more about encouraging your child’s emotional intelligence.