Empathy: It’s more than kindness…
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Being empathetic goes beyond understanding, though. An empathetic person can feel how another feels, can put him or herself into someone else’s position to understand how the other is feeling. Empathy is generally not inherent, but is learned and is improved with practice. So, how do we teach our children to be empathetic?
Here are a few ideas:
- When children are very young – label feelings.
- “It was very kind of you to help the lady with her heavy bag” – this teaches the childthe words “kind” and “help” and also recognizes the fact that he/she was able to seesomeone in need of assistance.
- “It was nice of you to tell your shy friend she was wearing a pretty dress” – you are telling the child he/she is “nice” and that he/she recognized that a friend needed a boost.
- Praise your child’s kind behaviors.
- Encourage your child to talk about his/her feelings.
- “How did that make you feel?”
- “Why did that make you sad?”
- “What did your friend do to make you happy?”
- Point out others’ behaviors.
- ‘Remember when you were so scared the first day of school and your new teacher was so friendly? Didn’t that help you?”
- “I know you were sad when your friend moved away, but wasn’t it wonderful for him/her to send you a card to say hi?”
- Teach a child respect for others’ values, backgrounds and beliefs. Empathy can be a great tool to prevent bullying and cruelty.
- TALK to your child: “How would you have felt if Jane had said something mean to you?”
- Involve your child in the community and in charitable works – this will go miles to show your child the concept of helping, feeling, understanding and being patient and compassionate for others.
- SET A GOOD EXAMPLE! Show your child that YOU care, that YOU feel and that YOU understand. And do this on a consistent basis. Remember – your child will learn more and believe in the concepts more if your practice what you preach.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
– Leo Buscaglia
Feeling, caring, understanding, listening, helping and patience – these are all virtues supported by and taught at Trautwein’s ATA. Empathy and compassion come with the intrinsic values of Taekwondo, as, without these values, our students simply go through the motions.
Learn more about our After School Camps next.