The Language of Love: Teaching Your Child Empathy

The Language of Love_Teaching Empathy to Kids

Empathy: em·pa·thy: The ability to imagine how someone else is feeling in a particular situation and respond with care. – Wisconsin Pyramid Model Training

Empathy allows us to connect to and understand people, to act and react to life based not only on fact, but with an understanding of the human elements involved. It is a common trait among the most giving members of our society, from social workers and teachers, to worldwide humanitarians. Empathy is an incredibly valuable skill, but it is also, like any other skill, one that has to be learned.

You; the parent, the sibling, the grandparent, the teacher, the caregiver, the family support worker, or just the adult who cares, teach children empathy every day, whether you realize it or not. Take a moment to share a warm memory you have of a child in your life making that connection to empathy, whether it is with a hug for a friend who is crying, or laughing out loud, just because you are.

Why? Because tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and there is no greater expression of love we can give the children in our lives than the ability to love and understand others through the empathy they learn from us. 

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3 thoughts on “The Language of Love: Teaching Your Child Empathy

  1. This year, I gave my nephews the book Sad Monster, Glad Monster. I loved seeing two-year-old Hoyt describe what he saw in the pictures as we read through each of the emotions. I’ve definitely seen this translate into our interactions, talking about our feelings and describing what we see in each others facial expressions! Pretty cool experience as an auntie!

  2. Last year I was going through a rough time. It seemed like there were endless health concerns in my family. When I heard that my mom had a heart attack, it did it for me. After ending my phone conversation with my sister, I tried to hold back tears when my 8 year old son came into the room. As much as I was holding back, he still managed to see my tear filled eyes and sad face. He sat next to me, put one hand gently on my shoulder while the other hand patted my back and said softly, “Mom, it’s okay to cry. Just let it all out. It will make you feel better.” Tears came trickling down my face and I was comforted by my son’s genuine concern for me. He continued to ask, “Mom, do you want to talk about it?” I smiled. I thanked him, and of course, I said everything was okay.

    My 8 year old son was able to display empathy, the same kind of empathy I showed him when he was having a bad day or when he was feeling sad, and when he needed it the most. I’m so proud of him to be able to learn this valuable skill at such an early age.

  3. I remember as the oldest of four, being very motherly to my siblings. I saw how my mom responded to my sisters and brother getting hurt or upset, and I often imitated her. I was calling them all “honey” by the time I was 3 years old, not realizing at the time how silly it sounded coming from someone my age. I only knew, through what my mother taught me, that was one way to express you cared. We still have a video my parents took of me struggling for a good 20 minutes to open a Bandaid for my sister, who had a paper cut. “It’s okay honey,” I kept saying, “It’s okay.” I was just trying to help my little sister because she was hurting, but what I know now is that is one of my earliest memories of expressing my empathy for another. My mother taught me that through her expression of empathy to me, and to others while I watched and took it all in.
    – Kelly McClurg, Communications Specialist, Supporting Families Together Association

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