Teaching Kids To Care: 5 Ways To Inspire Empathy

How do you explain and teach compassion and empathy to kids?

With violent images and messages coming from video games, movies and even cartoons, it’s no wonder kids need a little guidance in this area.

“Empathy is feeling with people,” Dr. Brené Brown said.

If your child is not showing signs of empathy and compassion for others, don’t beat yourself up. It is a skill that needs to be taught and learned with caring and guidance.

Here are 5 ways you can inspire empathy and compassion with your kids:

1. Be the change you want to see in the world.

There’s no stronger role model that a child’s parent. Kids take their cues from parents, so show them acts of caring in everyday life. Bring your elderly neighbor some homemade muffins, and be sure to talk about how great it feels to help other people while baking these goodies with your kids. Not to mention, smile at people! Teach your kids that something as small as a smile could change a person’s day.

2. Teach responsibility by giving it.

Assign your kids specific chores and set them up for success. For example, if you give your daughter table duties, be sure to keep all plates, cutlery and napkins within her reaching distance. When kids feel that their help is needed, they gain confidence and continue to help.

MORE: Empathy vs. Sympathy: How To Encourage Authentic Conversations

3. Random acts of kindness.

While it’s great to help out your elderly neighbor, it’s just as wonderful to reach out to a perfect stranger. Some examples to teach your kids: hold the door open behind you, offer to take your neighbor’s dog for a walk, collect canned foods and take them to a food bank, give someone a compliment at least once every day, and collect old clothes and toys to donate to a local shelter.

4. Volunteer together.

Teach your kids about the power of giving back. From the time they can sort and count out cans of beans, they can volunteer by your side. Check out what is needed in your community – animal shelters, food banks, park clean-ups – and sign up with your kids.

MORE: The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

5. Use their talents.

When it comes to volunteering your time, most people would rather do something they actually enjoy. The computer-savvy teen can help the local food bank with their website, or the musical child can entertain at a seniors’ home. Encouraging your kids to use their talents in service of others is what it’s all about.

Share the love! What are some of the ways you teach your kids empathy?

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