The essence of what it means to be human is empathy. It serves as the cornerstone for moral behaviour, healthy interpersonal connections of all types, selfless love, and career success. And it’s essential to preventing cruelty in general, including bullying.
The ability to see things from another person’s perspective and put oneself in their shoes is the foundation of empathy. However, it goes beyond that ability. While actors, politicians, salespeople, and marketers are frequently highly adept at seeing things from several angles, they cannot care about other people. Torturers and con men adopt different viewpoints in order to prey on people’s vulnerabilities. Empathy involves appreciating various viewpoints and people. Compassion and perspective-taking are crucial.
How can parents foster compassion? The following recommendations are based on research and the experience of experts in the field.
1. Demonstrate empathy for others and share it with your child.
Children learn empathy from both our own experiences and our own. Our ability to empathise with our kids helps them form safe, trustworthy bonds to us. Their desire to accept our ideals and emulate our behaviour, as well as their desire to develop empathy for others, is all dependent on these attachments.
Children can develop empathy by observing the people we value and notice. If we act as though a mailman or waitresses at a restaurant are invisible, people will notice. On the plus side, they will take note if we welcome a new family to our child’s school or show care for a different child in our child’s class who is having some difficulties.
Finally, it’s critical for us to understand any potential obstacles to empathy. For instance, are we stressed or exhausted? Does your kid have a tendency to set us off in a way that makes parenting them challenging at times?
- Recognize your kid. You should question your child. For instance, what intriguing information did you learn today? What was the most challenging time of the day? If you could do anything for a day, how would you like to spend it the most? Do you have a friend whom you hold in the highest regard? Why do you regard that individual?
- Empathize with people, including those who are different from you. Think about routinely performing volunteer work or serving your community in different ways. Consider doing this with your child to make it even better. Show interest in people from various backgrounds who are dealing with a wide range of difficulties.
- Self-care and introspection should be practised. Make an effort to schedule regular time for a stress-reducing activity, such as taking a walk, reading a book, practising meditation, or praying. When you are struggling to empathise with your child, take a moment to think about it and seek advice from people you trust.
2. Prioritize helping others and establish high standards for ethical behaviour.
It’s crucial for kids to learn from their parents that compassion for others is a high priority and that it is just as vital as their own happiness if they are to value other people’s viewpoints and act compassionately toward them. Even though the majority of parents claim that having kind children is their top priority, kids frequently don’t get that message.
- Keep your message concise. Think about the lessons you convey to kids every day about the value of kindness. Instead of saying, You can say, “The most important thing is that you are kind and happy,” as opposed to, “The most essential thing is that you are happy.”
- When speaking with other significant individuals in your children’s lives, put compassion first. For instance, in addition to inquiring about your children’s academic achievement, grades, or talents, ask instructors and coaches if they are compassionate members of the community.
- Assist your kids in realising that everything is not about them. It’s important for parents to sometimes put their children’s concern for others before their own happiness, such as when they demand that kids turn off the TV and help around the home, act politely even when they’re upset, or keep their voices down while speaking to other kids or adults.
3. Give children the chance to exercise empathy.
Although empathy is a capacity that children are born with, it must be developed over the course of their lives. In some ways, learning empathy is similar to learning a language or a sport. It necessitates instruction and practise. Through trial and error, youngsters can improve their ability to detect other people’s emotions by regularly evaluating other people’s viewpoints and circumstances.
- Family gatherings. When there are difficulties or conflicts in the family, call family meetings. At these sessions, let the kids speak up and urge them to consider the viewpoints of other family members. Ask your children to listen intently to other people’s viewpoints as well as your own.
- Encourage empathy towards their classmates. Children should be questioned about their peers and classmates. Encourage kids to take their peers’ viewpoints into account when they are at odds with their classmates.
- Think about compassion and empathy. When you and your child are together, pay attention to instances where someone demonstrates significant empathy—or a lack of empathy—either in real life, in a book, or on television; discuss the value of empathetic behaviour and the dangers of missing it.
- Discuss moral conundrums. Talk with your child with moral conundrums so they may understand other viewpoints, Should I tell her if I find out her boyfriend, who is also my girlfriend, is having an affair with her?
- Encourage the act of doing. Encourage kids to solve problems in the community by working with varied student groups rather than just performing acts of service or doing things “for” other people.
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