How to Teach Kindness and Empathy to Kids?

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10 Ways to Teach Kindness and Empathy to Kids

Kindness and empathy; two words that have been very important to me all my life. Even before I conceived, I always wished that my baby understands these two words, as a kind and compassionate kid is what the world needs today. I am thankful to my parents who have instilled these values in me.

These two words, kindness and empathy, have a lot of relevance in life when you grow up but the seeds have to be sown at the right time. In the first four years of parenting, I feel this is one of the most essential things which have to be taught or let us say introduced to kids.

My daughter, Little Miss A, will be four soon. I often speak to her about these concepts. This is the age where kids are selfish and maybe ego-centric. It is natural for them to think about themselves and their needs and they will rarely think of the other’s feelings.

Having said this, this is also the age where we need to or rather should introduce the concept. Emotional intelligence has to be taught and is the need of the hour. If you want to know if you are successfully raising a child with high EQ, head to our post, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.

Table of Contents

Difference between Kindness and Empathy

Before we get on with talking more about kindness and empathy, let us quickly understand the difference between the two. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of others whereas kindness is all about being kind and helping others.

Why is Kindness and Empathy Important?

Being kind to others i.e. to understand their needs and help them is important in all relationships. Similarly, understanding their feelings and helping them is essential too. The world today is facing various problems and being judgmental and hating the others has become like second nature to many. In such a scenario, teaching kindness and empathy is important. Though these two traits help in life at all stages, but let us talk of some reasons why kindness and empathy are important:

  • It helps kids make strong relations and also give them a sense of security which is very essential for their confidence levels
  • A good emotional quotient is good for their mental health
  • Kids learn to accept the others around them
  • Important for kids to accept people from other cultures
  • Empathetic kids understand the others and are less judgmental
  • Helps kids both professionally and socially
  • A high EQ is essential to be able to lead
  • The stress levels are low

Ways to Teach Kindness and Empathy

Kindness and empathy are like a tree that grow over a period of time, but I will say it again the seeds have to be sown early. At the age of 2, a child might understand the other person is happy or sad, but they will not be able to decipher why. By 3, they do understand if someone is hurt, but they will not know to relate to many feelings. As Miss A is turning 4, I see she now understands if something wrong is done and is quick to apologize. She also gets worried if her friends or anyone in the family gets hurt or is not well. I am sure as she will start formal school, she will interact more with kids her age, and will learn more like sharing and taking turns.

Let us know discuss some ways to teach kindness and empathy to kids:

Have Confidence in Them

You have to believe that your child is capable of being kind and considerate. Every time they do something good we must appreciate and encourage them. For the times, they do not react or act in the way they should have, rather than telling them off, help them understand and use a positive approach.

Practice What You Preach

If you want your kids to be kind and empathetic, you need to be the same. The more naturally you do such deeds in front of them, the more they will understand. Kids learn faster from what they see than what they are taught.

Teach Them to Understand Faces

The facial expression of a person is the first and the best way to know how they are feeling. Seeing the child and their expressions and talking about them, sets the right foundation. Telling them to look at their friends and understanding their expressions helps.

Be Consistent

Being rude or unkind to someone is not acceptable and the kids need to understand this from an early age. What is more important here is that you need to be consistent with these things and any deviation should not be ignored.

Help them Understand Feelings

Kids below 4 do not many times understand how they are feeling and thus, for them to understand others is tough. You must help them understand their feelings. We recently got a book You, Me and Empathy and this is a great way to introduce emotions and feelings to kids.

Handling Negative Emotions

Though, understanding all emotions is important but understanding and handling negative feelings is far more essential. When a child is taught to handle their negative feelings, they learn the art of problem solving with a positive mindset.

Reading

Research shows that children who are read to are more kind and empathetic. They learn to acknowledge different perspectives and also eventually understand the feelings of others.

Patience is the key

As parents, we have to be very patient when it comes to teaching anything new to the child. The children take time to understand and assimilate a concept. We have to be consistent and patient. Making your child emotionally intelligent is an important skill and will take the kids a long way.

Explain Positive and Negative Behaviors

Kids see many people reacting and also they read and watch TV. At all places, people or characters are demonstrating certain behaviors. Talk to the child about them and also how it is affecting the other person. For example, if someone is making fun of the other person who is feeling sad, or why the person is happy when his friend helped him. When kids see and understand the action and reaction, they will be able to understand and practice as well.

Put Them in the Same Situation

When your child does not understand or is not ready to acknowledge the feelings of others, asking them simply on how they would feel when they are in that person’s place helps a lot. For example, when Little Miss A behaves a certain way with the domestic help, I often tell her to think about how she would feel if Didi did that. More than often she understands and reacts appropriately.

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Conclusion

 Little Miss A will be four soon and I talk a lot about kindness and empathy to her. She understands sometimes and there are times when I feel does she even listen. Being consistent and helping in all possible ways is what I can do as a mother. I hope she will understand the importance of being a kind and empathetic girl soon. When we as parents will focus on these two values in my opinion, we will make the world a much happier place. As Bryant H McGill says,

“There is no greater intelligence than kindness and empathy”

49 COMMENTS

  1. Yes Arusha, raising an empathetic kid is becoming today’s need. My little one os 3.5 and he knows when I am upset. If I got hurt and sitting at one place, he immediately comes and asks me if I am okay. That cute face and the cute words are so magical. As you said practice what we preach so yes, we need to tell them how to be empathetic in different situations from our actions.

  2. Such an amazing post with great positive message. yes I agree that it is very important to teach our kids to be kind and empathetic . these are the traits that forms a strong foundation for their bright future . here in USA, teachers put a strong emphasis on developing these positive traits in kids, and I found it really impressive. apart from academic excellence, these are the things that helps a lot to our kids in their future.

  3. By instilling these values in your child at such an early age, you’re doing an amazing job. The world is in dire need of kindness and empathy today, <3

  4. I look forward to your posts in this challenge as they are extremely practical and informative. I loved it how you have explained the difference between empathy and kindness and then gone on to speak about how to develop these qualities among kids. Looking forward to some more great reads from you.

  5. I always say we Indians know sympathy but dunno empathy! We are ready to dole out money in sympathy bit not ready to empathise. Being a young widow I have seen all this..I will all parents teach empathy to their kids Arushi

  6. The best thing we can do as parents is to teach by example Arushi. I’m sure your daughter will learn all good qualities through you.

  7. Your daughter is a cutie pie.
    this post is very nice and really it’s very important in today’s times to teach our kids kindness and empathy.
    All your ways are doable and must be surely followed.

  8. This is such an important quality to be taught to children and as parents, one has to begin at a very young age. Really liked the fact that you put it so elaborately!

  9. Arushi, I really appreciate that you kept this lesson for your daughter from so early age. I wish you all the very best for your teaching, I know Adya will learn the acts of kindness very beautifully.

  10. I try to teach my son about kindness and empathy but he know someone is hurt that is not good but next thing he say is dwai laga do ,forget about others pain. He has a habit of pinching me all the time and I start doing the same but he does not understand that it does hurt .in his turn he says mujhe Pee ho rahi hai when I said that it hurts me too.

    • Kids take time and mine also sometimes ignores the fact she is being rude or hurting the other. I know she knows and i feel consistently reminding her will help. They will take a while to show all signs but we as parents need to keep trying

  11. Empathy and kindness are the base of personality building, definitely seeds are to be sown kn childhood only, I appreciate. your sincere efforts Arushi you are taking all efforts to make your mini understand what you have learned from your parents that how to be compassionate, very necessary things usually parents forget to make their kids learn In full filling their wishes and demands.

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