From the blog: Empathy’s role in healthy, happy (loved!) children

blogblock_empathyWith Valentine’s Day comes thoughts of sweet cards and candy and expressions of love. And love and nurturing are critical components of strong, healthy parenting. But there’s another important skill we encourage families to strengthen:

Empathy.

What is empathy, exactly? It’s the ability to understand and share another person’s experiences, emotions and feelings. Empathy allows us to understand how another person might feel in a specific situation, even when different from our own feelings. We might love someone deeply, but if we can’t empathize with that person–if we can’t put ourselves in their shoes and consider how very different their perspective and feelings might be–it can be hard to truly nurture them.

Empathy can help us (and our children!) thrive even when faced with daily challenges like stress, bullying and isolation.

Top 5 reasons to teach empathy to your kids:

  1. Empathy helps a child understand that she is a separate individual with her own feelings.
  2. Empathy helps a child understand that other people can have different thoughts and feelings (and that’s okay).
  3. Empathy builds self-esteem by valuing a child’s individual thoughts and affirming their right to those thoughts.
  4. Empathy supports mental health by enabling a child to express emotions, cope with stress and understand it’s okay to be different.
  5. Empathy allows a child develop healthy relationships because they can relate to, communicate with and share feelings with another person.

Wondering how we — as adults — can help kids in our own lives build their empathy skills?

Check out our Empathy fact sheet (in English & Spanish) here for 4 key ways to teach your kids empathy in everyday life. (Hint: YOU are an important role model.)

 

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