What is Empathy?
Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings of others.
How can we teach Empathy?
For children to understand the feelings of others, they first need to be aware of the feelings they have themselves.
There are so many books that show all the types of emotions and how to work through emotions.
Learning about Emotions
What If I Know My Feelings Ages 2-4
Use this board book to learn different feelings and quick solutions to go with each one. Also, check out the crafts on the author’s page. There’s a really cute Whatif Monster puppet craft.
All about Feelings Ages 3+
Use All about Feelings to explore different emotions. Enjoy the activities that go through various situations asking, How would you feel?
What are Feelings? Ages 3+
Explore emotions and common questions about emotions in this lift-the-flap book. Walk through different feelings and how to handle them.
Many of the books mentioned above can help children manage their emotions. Another one I absolutely love is Red Red Red.
Watch as the main character throws a temper tantrum. His pants are twisted, his socks don’t feel right, and he can’t reach the snack. As he gets angrier, the page gets redder and redder. Mama to the rescue! His mom calms him down with counting to 10. You’ll love this sweet rhyming books with great reminders on how to self-regulate.
Teach empathy by example
“Do as I say, not as I do” only goes so far. Our children are far more likely to learn empathy from their parents also showing empathy.
One place I could definitely show more empathy is in traffic, showing some understanding for why a person might be in a hurry.
I am a crier. When either of my boys see me crying, I try to explain to them why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling. I will let them know that someone else got hurt or died and I’m sad for their families and communities for what they’re going through.
How are you teaching your children empathy through your actions? Here are a few ways of showing empathy.
Use question stems
Question stems are a great way to talk about different scenarios. These could be scenarios in real life when fighting over toys, when someone gets hurt, etc.
How would you feel if…
What might happen if…
What emotion might you be showing if…
How do you think _____ felt when ______ happened? Why?
What could you do to help ______?
Read books where you can practice identifying with characters
Here’s a few books that are great for practicicing empathy:
Can I Join Your Club Ages 2-7
In this book, Duck really wants to find a club to join, but he keeps getting “DENIED.” Eventually, he started his own club where everyone that wants to join is “Approved.”
Use this book to talk about how the characters are feeling when they are denied from the club and what it means to be accepted.
A Tale of Two Beasts ages 5-10
A Tale of Two Beasts is great for showing how there’s always more than one point of view for a story. In part one, you’ll hear the girl’s point of view about the little beast. In part two, you’ll hear from the squirrel’s point of view about the terrible beast!
This book would be great for talking out different situations and how each person or character might feel.
Polly and Buster Ages 7-10
Polly and Buster is the perfect series for the divisiveness in the United States today. Polly is a witch and Buster is a monster. Monsters and witches are not supposed to be friends. Their friends defeats the odds and changes minds in their community as well.
Lightning Girl Ages 8+
I hope you enjoyed a few of these ways to practice empathy with your children. Be sure to join my online community. We talk mom life, books, and movies we love!
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