Teaching Empathy

How do we teach empathy to our children? There was a recent article regarding empathy and how important it is within a classroom setting. Dr. Michele Borba writes “We are such a trophy-, SAT obsessed society but if parents would recognize the value [for success] beyond the humanness, civility and ethics, they might get it– it needs to be woven in curriculum, not tacked on.”

Using empathy to guide our kids does not come easy. In my own case, empathy is not the knee-jerk reaction I go to when I need something to be completed and I’m met with resistance. Am I the only one? There’s enough books out there for using positive parenting, surely I can just become one overnight right? On top of all that, when I do have bad days I honestly want to give up altogether on the peaceful approach.

In terms of teaching empathy to our own kids, it’s pretty simple. They learn from us. No pressure here. I think that if we want our kids to have a certain skill we have to have that skill ourselves. No matter how many empathy lessons we try to teach, it’s up to us to give them examples in action.

Where do we begin? Here is my own top three resource as I use as a go-to when I need to rethink my parenting strategy.

1. Dr. Laura Markham over at Aha Parenting.

This is a great resource for when you need simple encouragement or easy to follow instructions. For most of her articles she has a script that gives you an idea of what you should say to you child in any area of behavior. If this is up your alley then she also has books and workbooks for purchase on her website.

2. A book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith called Gentle Discipline.

This book redefined a lot of behavioral problems for me. It redefined discipline! It very much focused on three main questions you have to ask yourself when you are met with a behavior issue. Why? What? How? This book also looks at self care and dealing with your own parental background. This is a gem.

3. Reading books to your kids about empathy.

Reading to your kids has many benefits, it’s a great way to talk about emotions with stories. Some are my favorite books about empathy are Horton Heard a Who, The Giving Tree and Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

I hope you find these useful. What are some of your own empathy teaching strategies?

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