How To Raise an Empathetic Child?

Children are not simply born ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Children are to be taught to be kind and caring and respectful. Children learn from their parents through the examples that are modeled for them every day.  So be careful!  Your children are watching and they are listening.  In a recent study out of Harvard School of Education, 80% of youth stated that their parents were more concerned with their achievement or happiness than whether they cared for others.  Valuing grades over kindness and caring has become the norm amongst many parents.   If we want our children to have a broader sense of themselves as part of a caring and empathetic community, then we must teach them this.  

Some suggested ideas from Washington Post author, Amy Joyce are:

1. Make Caring For Others a Priority

Instead of Saying to our kids: “the most important thing is that you’re happy,” say “The most important thing is that you’re kind.”

2. Provide Opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude

Learning to be caring is like learning to play a sport or an instrument. Daily repetition-whether it’s a helping a friend or pitching in around the house- make caring second nature and develop and hone your child’s caregiving capacities.   Practice gratitude (there is an activity to make gratitude medals in the January Box).

3. Expand your child’s circle of concern.

 Model friendly behavior to all the people in our daily lives, such a waitresses, post delivery persons, trash collectors. Encourage our children to care for those who are vulnerable. Talk to your children about appropriate ways to comfort a child who is hurt, teased or neurologically different. Take up a family cause- something that is important to you as a family and support it, such a food bank or homeless shelter. Donate toys, school supplies or clothing to children in need. 

4. Be a strong moral role model and mentor.

Be a role model for your child in honestly, fairness, and caring . It doesn’t mean we need to be perfect.  For our children to respect and trust us we need to acknowledge our mistakes and flaws. We also need to be good listeners’ to our children’s thoughts and ideas. 

Jane Koerbel