At Mumzworld, we make sure to bring you the best hacks and parenting tips so that you can rely on us for all your motherhood related queries. Today’s guide is all about instilling empathy in your little one. How soon should you do it and how does it affect their development?
Parenting Tips: Decoding Empathy
Empathy put simply, is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings by stepping into their shoes, or imagining the same happening to you. It is not to be confused with sympathy or pity.
When it comes to empathising, there’s a combination of emotions that need to be considered like putting aside your feelings, personal bias and opinions and looking at another person’s feelings from a fresh perspective.
Picking up on people’s reactions and comprehending situations from a different point of view is a lifelong lesson that needs to be taught early on.
According to neuroscience research, 98% of people are wired for empathy – they have an inbuilt ability to imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes. However, despite it being an inbuilt ability, a lot of people don’t tap into it, especially children, as it takes awareness and emotional intelligence to do it.
Parenting Tips: The Sooner The Better
So, the question remains, how soon should you cultivate this habit in your kids?
The answer – as early as four!
Although a child starts to communicate and comprehend behaviour by the age of four, it is the parent’s responsibility to inculcate this trait in their kids. Start off by explaining everyday situations. Try picking a current affair such as a natural calamity, local event or a family situation. Explain to them as to how they would approach such a situation, what would be regarded as a sensitive topic, how would you talk to a person keeping in mind that a situation has occurred in their lives, how would you keep their feelings ahead of yours etc.
The key here is to always bring this question to the fore, “How would you feel…?”
Role-playing is an effective tool as well. Through this exercise, your children will learn how to put a filter on what they say in front of people who are going through a tough time. That way, they will keep in mind not to hurt their feelings rather understand and give an unbiased opinion by putting themselves in the person’s shoes.
Parenting Tips: Practice What You Preach
Another point to note is that children replicate and cultivate behavioural characteristics from their parents. Therefore, it is important that you practice what you preach. While your children might not know it’s empathy; they will pick up the habit naturally until it eventually becomes a part of their personality.
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