If you’re like most parents, you want your children to be successful and happy. But have you thought about the importance of being compassionate, empathetic or kind?

Anyone is capable of empathy, especially if they are encouraged from an early age. Which is why teaching children empathy is so vitally important.

In the age of social media, real human connection and interaction matter more than ever.

Empathy can be the glue that binds us together and creates deep meaningful relationships throughout our lifetimes; including marriage, friendships, and even professional networks.

That’s why as parents, it makes sense for us to be teaching children empathy at every developmental stage, so we can help our kids grow up to become compassionate human beings.


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Put Yourself In Their Shoes

While empathy is associated with compassion, it’s more complex than just relating to another person’s experience or emotion.

Richard Weissbourd and Stephanie Jones, who are part of the Making Caring Common project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, explain that:


“Empathy is at the heart of what it means to be human. The capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing allows for a deeper connection, one that draws you out of your comfort zone to reach out and actively help another in need.”


Teaching Children Empathy At Every Age

Parents, you have the power to instill the values of caring and kindness in your children.

Emotional intelligence is learned! And you are the most powerful teacher your child will ever have at each stage of development.

Teaching children empathy doesn’t need to be complicated. These tips can give you a place to start.


Toddlers and Preschoolers:

The first step to developing empathy is learning about emotions. Help young ones understand their feelings by naming and talking about them.

“I am feeling sad because grandma is moving away. How are you feeling?”

You can reinforce emotional awareness by reading books that explore feelings, and explaining how the characters’ actions have emotional consequences.


RELATED: Amazing Books That Teach Kindness To Children


Use stories to demonstrate how a particular event or behavior impacts others. “How do you think rabbit felt when the other animals made fun of him?” 

Teaching children empathy means showing them that what they do affects the people around them.


child comforting another child


Grade-School Children:

Older children are better able to think past their own feelings to understand how friends or family members might feel.

This is a good time to work on developing conflict resolution skills.

You can highlight fairness, but also educate your kids about disappointment.

Work with your child on learning self-control, and show them the methods you use to manage your own feelings. Kids will model their behavior after what they see you do!


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Teaching children empathy includes teaching them how to work through their emotions in a constructive way.



Now is the time to reinforce and implement the empathy skills you’ve already taught.

Teens are subjected to peer pressure, competition, and potential bullying to a higher degree.

At this stage, your child’s ability to be empathic may safeguard other kids who haven’t received the same level of support and compassion you’ve provided.

Young adults can practice acts of kindness in their communities, homes, and schools to strengthen their emotional and cognitive abilities.

This is a great time to get kids involved in charity work! Teaching children empathy also means encouraging them to help others.


RELATED: The 30-Day Random Acts Of Kindness Challenge


Supporting others in within the community helps puts  “real face” on complex issues and can make the experience more real. This, in turn, allows kids to start thinking about what it might feel like to walk in another person’s shoes.

They can start to understand other people’s situation, and feel compassion as a result. That is the beauty of empathy.




Make Empathy A Family Affair

 Moms and dads, you’re the number one role model for your kids. Teaching children empathy is about demonstrating kindness to those around you.

Do your part and put empathy into practice at home. Demonstrate caring when you interact with your spouse, your neighbors, or in how you react to sibling rivalry.

Show your children the importance of being kind over always being right.

Dedicate time to community service. Even young children can accompany you to volunteer events.

Older children and teens may want to spend time on issues that are important to them. Encourage this!


Volunteering as a family has many benefits! You get to spend quality time with your kids and help them feel gratitude for what they have. In addition, your kids will start to recognize that they can make a difference in the world.


With a multi-faceted approach to teaching children empathy, you can share your beliefs about kindness, caring and tolerance with your kids.

This will help them foster stronger relationships and feelings of gratitude as adults.


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