As parents, most of us make sure our children are put in the best schools so they can reach their full potential and attain a high level of intelligence. However, one aspect of intelligence that’s often overlooked is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is important because it is the key to both personal and professional success, as it deals with the ability of being aware of, controlling, and expressing one’s emotions, and handling interpersonal relationships with logic.
One of the main aspects of emotional intelligence is empathy. It is important that parents teach their children the value of empathy at a young age because of the benefits that will aid them in growing and becoming a well-rounded individual. Children with empathy have more awareness surrounding their environment, tend to be better at handling conflict and difficult situations, are less likely to bullies, and are more likely to be compassionate and kind towards other children.
Here are 4 ways you can teach your child to be empathetic:
1. Showing them your own empathy:
Children learn by watching others. If you’re not empathetic to them or to others, your child is less than likely to be empathetic. For example, let’s say your child makes a mistake and instead of understanding what might have been wrong, you get mad at them for it. As a result, children will learn to approach mistakes made by their peers in a similar fashion. Empathy helps children learn to be understanding.
2. Teaching children how to deal with their own negative feelings using self-control:
If a child is unable to figure out why they feel certain emotions, it’s unlikely they’ll know how to deal with them. It’s important that parents teach children how to acknowledge their feelings. For example, if your child throws a temper tantrum after a situation you might deem to be “insignificant”, it’s crucial that you treat the situation with delicacy.
Ask them what made them mad and make sure they understand that their feelings are validated. A lot of parents usually have an urgency to want to fix things right away without making that first step to communicate. It’s important to know that, although frustrating, taking the time to listen will help your child learn how to deal with their emotions.
3. Encouraging children to read more books and watch TV together:
Children acquire a lot of their role models through fictional characters in TV shows, cartoons, and movies because they unconsciously choose characters to empathize and sympathize with. In books, you can encourage your child to see life through another perspective. In movies, you can explain to them what characters are feeling and dealing with as the storylines develop.
4. Encourage them to help others in need:
Whether it’s a big or small situation, encouraging your child to sympathize with those in need teaches them to care more about others. For example, if you have multiple children, teach your child the simple trick of trying to understand why one of their siblings might be frustrated in a given moment. Prompt them to ask questions as to why they might be feeling down, if something happened at school, if they were hungry, or if they’re just having bad day. The little questions will go a long way.
Teaching Empathy at Cranium Academy
At Cranium Academy, we value the duality of both academic and emotional intelligence. We pride ourselves in making sure our teachers lead by example and model empathy every day as they interact with students and fellow colleagues.