Kids who are empathic can understand where other people are coming from because they can put themselves in their shoes and feel how they feel. And because they can "feel with" someone else, they are more generous, unselfish, and caring. So nurture your child's empathy to help him see beyond himself and into the views of others. Here are three ways to do so:
• Point out other's emotions. Pointing out the facial expressions, posture, and mannerisms of people in different emotional states as well as their predicaments helps kids tune into other people's feelings. As occasions arise, explain your concern and what clues helped you make your feeling assessment: "Did you notice Lily's face when you were playing today? I was concerned because she seemed worried about something. Maybe you should talk to her to see if she's okay."
• Imagine someone's feelings. Help your kid imagine how the other person feels about a special situation: "Pretend you're a new student and you're walking into a brand-new school and don't know anyone. How will you feel?"Asking often, "How would you feel?" helps kids understand the feelings and needs of other people.
• Ask often, "How does the other person feel?" Look for daily situations that could nurture empathy. Then pose questions using that situation to help guide your child to consider how the person feels—for example:
Parent: Mom has had a long, hard day at the office. How do you think she feels? Child: Kind of tired.
Parent: So what could you do to make her feel better? Child: I guess I could turn down my TV, so it's not so loud.
Parent: That's a great idea! It would be a nice way to let Mom know you're thinking about her.
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