Empathy or the ability to perceive another person’s point of view naturally emerges as a child grows and develops. However, valuing, respecting and understanding another person’s point of view are social and emotional skills that parents must help their children to understand in order to raise emphatic and compassionate individuals.
Teach them gratitude.
The old adage “count your blessings” is true. By focusing on the things that your children already have helps them realize and keep in mind that they are rich in so many ways. Teaching them gratitude also makes them sensitive to other people’s feelings, helping them to develop empathy, compassion and kindness.
Some of the ways you can teach gratitude to your children are”
- Model gratitude – children model their parents in every way, so make sure you always say please and thank you.
- Work gratitude in daily conversations – weave appreciation in your mundane talks, e.g. “Aren’t we lucky to have Sam for our cat?” or “Aren’t the stars lovely tonight?” You can also pick a thanking part of the day like talking about the things that happened that day that you’re thankful for over dinner.
- Ask your child to help – giving your child a task like clearing the table or washing the dishes helps him to appreciate the work that you put in when his parents do the task for everybody.
- Encourage generosity – encourage your children to give up and share their things to those have less
- Thank you notes –telling someone even one little thing that you appreciate about him helps foster connectedness and vice versa
Teach them about happiness
Happiness is a choice. It’s easy for your child to be happy when things are going their way. But when things get tough or when things don’t go their way, how do we teach children to cope and stay happy?
AS with most things, children learn by modelling.
Your language, behavior, mood, reactions, goals and habits all influence how your child sees and understands happiness.
The following five steps will help you make happiness a part of your daily conversation until it is practiced and observed and becomes a habit.
- Decide to be happy – teach your children that they can choose to be happy at any moment or whenever they want to feel good. Remind them that their happiness is so precious that they shouldn’t let other people or situations take it away from them.
- Mood boosters – teach them how to boost their mood by practicing gratitude, (e.g. “I am grateful for Sam the cat because he’s fun.”; kindness, e.g. donating old clothes and toys to the needy, watching over little sister, etc.; and positive reflection, e.g. expressing gratitude during bedtime prayers.
- Teach tools for resiliency – teach your children to respond with acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and gratitude when faced with adversarial situations. Offer how acceptance, forgiveness and compassion are the best ways to respond. Help them to see the best in any situation.
- Acceptance – Encourage your children to be true to themselves by accepting and having confidence on who they really are inside. Encourage them to use their strengths and support activities that use and showcase their strength.
- Trust and faith – Teach your children to respond with faith and trust when faced with the unknown. Encourage positivity and realistic optimism.