Building Empathy in Children

Practice Empathy! In a world where our kids often face bullying, stress and fear of being different, building their empathy skills is a critical way to help them thrive.

• Read the “Practice Empathy” Fact Sheet in English
• Read the “¡Practica la empatía!” Fact Sheet in Spanish

Practice Empathy with your Children from SCAN of Northern Virginia on Vimeo.

Empathy is the ability to understand others’ feelings as if we were experiencing them ourselves. Empathy allows us to understand how another person might feel in a specific situation, even when different from our own feelings.

3 Simple Tips to Build Empathy in Kids:

1. Model kindness and draw attention to examples of empathy. Instead of asking about a grade or activity, ask, “What caring thing did you do today?” or, “How did that make you feel?”

2. Talk about feelings. Ask about your child’s feelings. Ask your child about the feelings of others in specific situations. Help them learn how to describe emotions and feel safe when they share.

3. Read to (and with) your children. Stories help us understand other’s situations, reactions and feelings. Role play situations where empathy is critical: bullying, peer pressure, conflict with siblings/friends to help them prepare for challenges where empathy might be especially difficult (and important).