As parents, there is always one recurring thought when we look at our children; how can I help my child become a good person? One of the most important tools that parents and educators can provide children is empathy, and what it means to be an empathetic person. A leading childcare development company hosted a webinar titled Sparking Empathy in Your Child, which informs individuals about a multitude of ways to introduce children to empathy.
One of the topics up for discussion involved figuring out the general age in which children develop a concept of what it means to share and be considerate of others’ feelings. Ileen Henderson, M.Ed, who works as the National Director of the Child Development Program elaborated on formative empathetic experiences for children.
According to Henderson, children can develop a sense of compassion and empathy for others at as early as two years old. A little boy or girl who sees another child appear to be upset can greatly benefit by hearing an adult explain why the child is upset and how they can be made happy. For example, “That little boy is sad because his toy broke, we are going to go over and play with him.” This exchange is an example of expressive language that enables a child to see distress and understand how to remedy it. Children can also greatly benefit by hearing stories or consuming other forms of media that depict individuals going struggling with a problem. By sharing stories where someone struggles with a problem and receives help, children can empathize both with the struggle and the satisfaction that comes from helping someone.
One of the most wonderful things about children is the way that they learn by the example that parents and other important adults set for them. If a child sees a parent or teacher actively involved with the emotional experiences of others, the child will learn to show interest in these issues as well. Children are extremely adept at picking up on our emotional cues and by involving ourselves positively in the emotional struggles of others, children will pick up on that positivity and want to emulate it.
Learning about problems through stories or live experiences helps pave the way to the next helpful step to teaching children empathy. Volunteering is paramount in providing children the skills required for empathy. Children can experience the happiness an adult receives while helping provide a charitable service and will learn to associate happiness with helping. Of course, it is important to provide your child with a safe volunteering environment and to have an open dialogue with them about what they are about to experience. Let them ask questions and let them see a positive example to follow.
The final example a parent can set for their child is by ensuring volunteerism is not simply a one off. By engaging in regular volunteer services, children can see that they, like their parents, should be interested in others and their well being. If children can see that care and concern for others are full time obligations instead of one off opportunities, they can successfully transition into empathetic individuals who improve the world around them.
We here at Little Foot childcare provide a foundation for children to thrive and develop at their own pace. Through frequent teacher training and professional development, we have and continue to exceed the state educational standards for daycares in Tempe, Arizona. We implement continual curriculum and program improvements and are Nationally Accredited. Please contact us via the following page: https://littlefootlc.com/contact.