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  • How to Teach Our Kids One of the Most Important Values of Success: Empathy

    We should not forget to teach our kids “conscientious characteristics.”
    by Kate Borbon .
How to Teach Our Kids One of the Most Important Values of Success: Empathy
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Parents will always want the best for their kids, and like their parents before them, it often means encouraging their child to pursue school success. And there is nothing wrong with that, but in the pursuit of high grades, we should not forget what Anna Nordberg calls “conscientious characteristics” in an article for the Washington Post.

    According to clinical psychologist Lisa Damour, it is neither academic nor professional success that correlates strongly with happiness as an adult, Rather, it is more about “quality of relationships, a sense of purpose and feeling that you are good at what you do,” as Nordberg writes.

    How to teach kids empathy

    Those conscientious characteristics include empathy, and it help kids have better relationships and be more caring, and honest, says Damour. According to Goodstart Early Learning, empathy is a value that encourages kids to be more tolerant and accepting and even helps promote good mental health. To build this important value in your little one, try these five tips.

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    Model empathetic behavior

    As a parent, you are your child’s best and most important teacher. What your child sees you do in your everyday life, she will also learn to do. Let her see you being empathetic with your relatives, friends, neighbors, or community. And when you see her practicing those behaviors, don’t forget to praise her efforts.

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    Create opportunities that encourage empathy

    In her article, Nordberg encourages parents not to wait for their kids to practice empathetic behavior. Rather, moms and dads are called to provide opportunities that will allow their child to be kind. Examples include asking her to help care for or tutor her younger siblings or cousins, involving them in solving minor conflicts within the family and writing thank-you notes to relatives and friends.

    Talk about feelings

    Goodstart Early Learning writes a child’s ability to understand her feelings “is an important first step in understanding the feelings of others.” By discussing it with your child, you help build her emotional language and give her the chance to consider the perspectives of other people, which is not something that comes naturally to young kids.

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    Validate your child difficult emotions

    It’s not enough to talk about your child’s feelings. You also need to validate them, even the big, difficult ones, like anger, frustration, and disappointment. Informing your child that those big emotions are part of life helps her learn how to handle them and how to understand other people when they are going through those emotions.

    Use stories and pretend play

    Books are a great way to introduce children to different emotions. During your next bedtime reading session with your tot, take the opportunity to read stories that tackle various emotions. You can even try asking her questions about how she thinks the characters feel, such as, “How do you think this character feels after she and her friend fought?”

    Pretend play is another thing you can try to build empathy in your little one, says Zero to Three. Create simple situations. For example, have your child’s doll say that it doesn’t want to share its food with a teddy bear. Follow this up by asking your child, “How do you think your teddy bear feels that your doll doesn’t want to share her food? How should the bear respond to this?”

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    Click here to learn more about why good education is not the sole driver of success for children when they grow up.

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