Research suggests that kids are more likely to develop an empathetic attitude if their own emotional needs are met at home. Being human, it is our moral responsibility to feel empathetic towards others, but as adults, sometimes we fail in being empathetic because of our own emotional battles. The fast paced life that we lead, leaves us with very little time for others, or so we think. However, for a strong society and a better emotional foundation, it becomes naturally important to teach our kids empathy. This is how we can help them understand others, by putting themselves in their shoes.
Teach him to distinguish his own emotions: If your child is able to differentiate between his own emotions, he will understand others feeling better. Tell him, you are clapping, this shows you are really happy about something. Ask him why he was so sad that day when the grandparents left for their house. This way he will understand different emotions and how they are expressed.
Be a role model: Children learn best by following their parents. So whenever, you are taking a meal for your neighbour or you are giving some medicine to your maid as she is not well, do it in front of your child. Show it to him or ask him to help you by giving it to the maid. This will make him understand that others can have problems which can be sorted out with our help.
Appreciate his empathetic behaviour: If your child gives his toy to his younger sibling just because she was crying, appreciate him by saying that it was so kind of him and that he is really a caring elder brother/sister . It not only makes the kid happy but encourages him to repeat that behaviour.
Never reward for empathy: Kids should never be rewarded for their empathetic act because this way, you are not motivating them. They will only be empathetic when they see rewards or incentives coming their way. Kids need to be taught that it is done out of emotional feeling and not for want of incentives.
Show other people’s behaviour: If you see someone being kind to others on the road or in a shopping mall or anywhere, show your child by quoting examples like, isn’t that aunty really generous, she gave her seat to the woman who was old and was not able to stand, it’s so kind of her. It will make him feel that this is the general norm of the society and it is how each one should behave. If you are in a park show him the other kids and ask him questions related to their behaviour. That kid is jumping; he seems to be really excited. And see that one, who has a frowning face, why do you think he is making that face??Something of this kind will help your child to understand others.
Don’t teach by getting angry: If you teach your child by shouting at him he is awry of accepting your ideas. He may do as you say at that moment, but will soon forget about it as he did not listen to you intently. The best way is to control yourself and calm down before you check your child for being naughty. Tell him politely that his brother or sister is crying only because he is not sharing his toys with her. See how happy she will become, once he gives her his toy or something like this to show him that his behaviour affects other people positively as well as negatively.
Teaching by giving examples will always make the child learn in a better way and his learning’s will stay with him, once he accepts the things taught to him which is not forced on him. Try it and see the change!!