How did you teach your child the concept of empathy? originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Alecia Li Morgan, mum of 4:
This is how I’m working on it:
1) Making sure my children’s needs are met, both physically and emotionally. It’s easier for kids (and adults) to think about others when their own needs are being fulfilled. Besides that, it also teaches them by example what it looks like to be cared for. Modeling is hugely important. By showing them that I am ready, willing, and committed to making sure they’re taken care of, they understand that this is how we show we care about people. They learn how to behave when others are hurting or in need. This past year, I’ve broken down a few times in front of my kids, and they all, every single one, have reacted in ways that bring me to tears even now just thinking of. My three year old will come and hug me, give me kisses, and pet my hair. My autistic five year old will do silly things to try and make me laugh or bring me his stuffed animals to hold. My sweet six year old comes up and holds onto me tightly and tells me how much he loves me. My eight year old will make little wisecracks and tell me that I’m the best mom in the world. Sometimes, I’ll find little notes or drawings left on my bed when they go to their dad’s. They recognize that it hurts me when they’re away, and they try to show their care and love.
2) Talking to them about how they feel. I’m constantly talking to my kids about their feelings and why they feel the way they do. They have been talking with me about cause and effect for years now, and they’re getting really good about figuring out why they feel how they do. We talk about how it feels to be left out, why they’re worried about X or Y not being friends with them, and also their unease and fears about the divorce. Helping them understand their own feelings is a big building block for empathy, because it teaches them about how…