This month’s video provides some encouragement on the topic of The Power of Empathy.
Teaching your child empathy is a gift that you can pass on that will not only be a blessing to your child but to other relationships in their life when they are adults. There is a verse in the book of Micah that says, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8 NIV). This is the essence of empathy.
Teaching children empathy is easier said than done—it’s difficult to get children to share toys, much less empathize with others! However, there are a few tactics you can use when parenting that will help foster empathy in your child.
1. Initiate conversations about what it would be like to be in another person’s circumstances. This could happen spontaneously—like when you see a homeless person on the side of the road, or it could be a directed conversation at the dinner table. Asking questions that get to the child’s heart are key: “What do you think that homeless man does when it snows?” or “If that woman has no money, how does she pay for food for her little boy?”
2. Cultivate a family lifestyle that involves helping those less fortunate. Calendar activities throughout the year that will expose kids to experiences that will help them empathize with people less fortunate. Serve food as a family at a food kitchen, or volunteer to weed an older neighbor’s back yard. Use the experience to help your child be more attune to what it’s like for people going through sad, difficult, or lonely times.
3. Model loving behavior. The best way to teach kids empathy is to model it. Kids notice everything, and though it might not seem like they are watching what you do, they are. Make sure your kids see you ministering to others in need and showing others the love of Jesus—whether it’s to the sick, the elderly, those in prison, or the homeless.
This month’s video offered some insight on what empathy is and why it is so important to be transparent and vulnerable to your kids—and how Jesus is the perfect model.