Updated: Jan 25
Empathy plays a major role in children’s emotional learning. It is at the core of what it means to be human.
The ability to take another's perspective and consider what it feels like for someone else is an important characteristic trait.
Elementary age is perfect to start teaching empathetic behavior because children learn lessons the fastest from birth until approximately 8 years old. This is why it’s crucial to instruct empathy at this time period. Building this moral early on will instill respect for classmates and teachers while also inspiring emotional intuition.
Three primary benefits of teaching empathy are:
Stronger personal emotional awareness
Better relationships with peers
Stronger appreciation and respect for others
When children learn to be empathetic, they gain a powerful skill: the ability to monitor their emotions. By learning to see from other perspectives, kids quickly understand to healthfully accept both positive and negative feelings. When a child empathizes, they gain practice recognizing these emotions in themselves and become more adept at articulating their needs to parents, teachers, and guardians.
Building off this concept, emotional empathy helps elementary school children build stronger relationships with their peers. When a child uses empathy to identify with others, they build compassion, humility, and the ability to navigate conflict peacefully.
Teaching empathy in schools also instructs respect for peers and authority. Children from ages two to eight years old do not often seek to understand others outside of themselves. However, when a child learns to see perspectives other than his own, he leans towards an appreciation of others and thus a respect for their ideas and opinions.
So how can teachers, home-schoolers, and parents learn to instill this invaluable character trait? Here are two important steps to help build empathy:
Use stories. Children are tactile learners. Using books and hypothetical stories can help a child visualize a variety of lessons and morals. Children relate to storybooks and fictional characters frequently and teachers and parents can use this inclination to teach empathy.
Use conversation and reason. If you find your child struggling with a concept, try talking with them about it and rationalizing on their level of reasoning. Patience will get you a long way in this process.
What do you think of our tips? Let us know in the comments below!