18 Nov · Tim Carter · No Comments

At the heart of what it means to be human lies empathy. It forms the foundation for good relationships as it entails valuing other people’s perspectives. Moreover, it’s the key to preventing bullying in school as well as many other forms of cruelty. So, how can caregivers foster a child’s empathy?

Empathize with the child’s own needs and also teach them how to cope with distress

Various studies have revealed that when children’s emotional needs are met during childcare, they are likely to cultivate a strong sense of empathy. This means that when kids can count on the physical as well as emotional support of caregivers during child care or at preschool, then they are more likely to assist those other kids who are in distress of some kind not to mention showing them empathy.

It is therefore extremely crucial for caregivers to help children cope with their negative emotions in a problem-solving oriented way.

Empathizing with them can take many forms such as;

  • Respecting and understanding their individual personalities.
  • Taking a genuine interest in their lives.
  • Tuning into their physical and emotional needs.

Treat children as individuals with mind of their own

Caregivers who treat children as individuals with minds of their own are able to talk to them about the way their feelings influence their behavior.

Model empathy for others

During child care, children are able to learn empathy by watching how we treat other people. They will notice if we treat a waiter in a restaurant as if they were invisible and on the other hand, they will notice if we show concern about another child in their class who is facing some challenge.

Provide opportunities for children to practice empathy

In as much as children are born with the capacity for empathy, it needs to be nurtured throughout their lives. For them to learn empathy, it requires constant practice and guidance just like learning a sport. Caregivers can foster this through the following:

  • Encouraging empathy for their peers especially when they are in conflict with them.
  • Discussing with them ethical dilemmas that help them appreciate various perspectives for instance: should they invite a new classmate to their birthday when other children don’t like them?
  • Discussing why acts of empathy are important.

Help children develop self-control and manage feelings effectively

Many times when children don’t express empathy to others it is not because they don’t possess it, on the contrary, it is because some feeling is getting in their way of empathy.

This ability to care for others is overwhelmed by certain feelings of anger, shame, envy and so on. In preschool or daycare, helping children manage these negative emotions is often what releases their empathy. Start by:

  • Identifying their feelings such as sadness, frustration or anger and encourage them to talk to you about why they are feeling so.
  • Teach them the 3 steps to self-control: stop, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the mouth and then count to five.

By employing these tips during child care, it is possible to develop strong empathetic skills in children as they grow under our care and guidance.

Tim Carter

I’m Tim Carter, a thirty something year old, husband, father, childcare owner, and chocolate brownie lover. I believe children deserve better and only hope this blog will create a little change.