8 tips for parents: How do I encourage my child’s empathy?

Overview of topics:
Why is empathy important?
Tip 1: Many interactions
Tip 2: Imitate babies
Tip 3: Explain the feelings of other people
Tip 4: Full power at school age
Tip 5: Talk about feelings
Tip 6: Demonstrate unprejudiced interest
Tip 7: Taking time consciously
Tip 8: Tell stories

Why is empathy important?

1) Empathy is the cornerstone for happy, sustainable relationships

Most people yearn for a deep relationship with another person, but few are able to build one. To genuinely be happy with another person or to share their grief takes a great willingness to understand her and to put one’s own ego aside. Empathy not only allows you to understand your partner’s feelings, it also allows you to feel them yourself.

However, empathy is not only a decisive factor for true, but also contributes to the quality of each individual relationship. Friendships, as well as business relationships, require compromises that are kept. The better one can empathize with other positions, the better solutions for all can be found. If the other person feels understood, this in itself can already solve problems and prevent them.

The same applies to life in a society where the most diverse perspectives come together. To be against something is easy, but rarely brings us forward. It is helpful to have the will to deal more deeply with people’s positions and to be able to understand and empathize with their point of view. Only at that point lies a chance to find a satisfactory compromise.

2) Empathy is responsible for the internalization of moral attitude

There are two reasons for moral action:

  • fear of punishment
  • Understanding of the suffering that could be caused to someone else (empathy)

People who frequently act morally because of empathy internalize their moral attitude. Some study results suggest that men are more likely to act morally out of fear of punishment and women out of empathy. Probably these tendencies are not innate, but learned. Read more » here

And there we are with the good news: Empathy is learned! The ability for empathy is determined only 10 percent genetically and mainly by social factors, especially in childhood. Conversely, you can teach your child empathy.

Tip 1: Many interactions

  • Interact a lot with your child and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t signal much interest at first.
  • If you have several children, be sure to plan time alone with each child from.

Tip 2: Imitate babies

  • Replay your baby´s facial expressions
  • Studies show that parents imitate boys less so as not to make them cry. Boys are more emotionally unstable at the beginning of their lives and cry more because of this. All the more help they need to deal with their emotions.

Tip 3: Explain the feelings of other people

  • Children must first learn to think beyond their own perspective in order to understand that other people think and feel something completely different from themselves. You can help your child by talking about the thoughts and feelings of others. Especially if your child has done harm to another, you should talk about how the other child feels.
  • „That hurts the other kid as much as it hurts you to get a ball.“
  • „If you say something like that, it makes me sad because…“

Tip 4: Full power at school age

  • If the training does not bear fruit before the school age of your child, do not let yourself be demotivated. With school age, children slowly gain cognitive mobility and can more easily empathize with other people. They will also better understand the exercises and conversations from before.

Tip 5: Talk about feelings

  • Talk to your child about his or her feelings – alone to meet not only the physical but also the emotional needs of the child and to get to know him or her better.
  • The child not only learns to express feelings, but also to consciously confront them. It learns to understand and deal with its own feelings. After all, it is not easy to know yourself why you are angry or happy.
  • If the child can articulate feelings, that is also an important prerequisite to be able to consider the feelings of others and solve conflicts verbally.
  • „What was the best and worst part of your day?“ or „Did you do something nice for someone today or did someone do something nice for you? … How did that feel? „1

Tip 6: Demonstrate unprejudiced interest

  • Enjoy the gift of not having to have an opinion about everything and share your opinion in moderation rather than in mass, if not asked for. If your child often perceives comments as judgmental, it will be less open to share its thoughts.
  • So when she talks about her new hobby, try to see it as a chance to get to know her better and pay attention to how many questions you ask in comparison to comments you make.
  • A child who feels respected in his individuality shares his thoughts and feelings more openly
  • In the worst case, a child sees the need to permanently protect its self-esteem. Then it has no capacity at all to consider the feelings of its fellow human beings.

Tip 7: Taking time consciously

  • Have fixed times with your child when you pay full attention to each other. Sometimes conversations about feelings fail on occasions – so just create them and keep them consistently. Not every time the conversation of your life will take place, but when your child has something on his heart, he knows where to place it.

Tip 8: Tell stories

  • The next best thing to own experiences are stories.
  • The more individual life stories and unique experiences children know, the more they can put themselves in the position of others. They build a higher understanding as well as more acceptance and appreciation.

The Happy Jona values:

✓ equality   ✓ honesty   ✓ sustainability   ✓ empathy   ✓ respect

And 1 more tip!

teddy reading a book

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Find books that encourage empathy now:


1: businessinsider.de Abruf 01.08.2019

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