with Kumu Spear
Understanding how another person feels or "standing in their shoes" is an important social skill for children to learn. The ability to have empathy for others will help them interact and respond to others appropriately. Two ways for a child to understand how another person feels are to:
think of a time when they have the same experience.
Remember how they felt and imagine how they might feel in the same situation.
It is important for children to remember that not everyone will feel the same way in the same situation and that nonverbal cues can help us understand how a person might be feeling. You can encourage your child to build empathy skills by:
Model how to value feelings. Children watching others to learn appropriate ways of
behaving and interacting, and are known to be influenced by the behaviors they see around them. You can be a good role model by acknowledging and valuing others' feelings, and showing understanding and sympathy when someone is sad, upset, distressed, frustrated or in need of help.
Setting an example. Acts of kindness and charity are a way to teach your child empathy. Consider regularly engaging in community service or model other ways of contributing to a community. Even better, consider doing this with your child. Express interest in those from various backgrounds facing many different types of challenges.
Connect feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. When talking about feelings, connect behaviors with the feelings for children so that they understand cause and effect. For example, "Max is feeling sad because Oliver took his toy. What might help Max feel better?" Teaching kids about cause and effect can also be done through stories, play acting, or reading books.