Empathy Day takes place each year in June and was inspired by research which showed that humans are not born with a fixed amount of empathy and it is a skill that we can nurture and learn. Empathy means being able to imagine how others might feel in a given situation, and responding in a way that takes others’ feelings into account. It is a complex skill for children to learn and takes time to develop over a number of years. As outlined in the Little Wise Box of Emotions, there are many things that we can do to support the development of empathy in children. To name just a few in brief…
We can help children to learn to name and understand their own different emotions and feelings.
We can model empathy as little ones learn so much by how their parents respond to them when they are frightened or upset, and by watching our interactions with others.
We can regularly talk with our children about how they and other people might feel in different day-to-day situations.
We can read stories together which expose children to a wealth of new experiences, and give them the opportunity to practise seeing the world from the perspective of other people.
We can provide opportunities for children to engage in pretend play where they take on the role of different characters so that they can put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
Small steps in lots of different ways can help to make such a big difference in nurturing the development of social and emotional intelligence in young children.
P.S. I was at my mum’s the other day for my birthday BBQ. I picked the crisp in the image out of the bowl. Just before I was about to pop it into my mouth it made me smile to discover that it was the shape of a heart. I thought it seemed like an appropriate image for a post about empathy ?❤️