Teaching Your Child Empathy

In this episode of Coffee with the Consultants, therapists address teaching your child empathy.

Mental health counselors Stephanie Essex, Michele Duss interview guest Linda Tobiassen. All three women are social-emotional consultants at Starfish Academy preschools in Sarasota, Fla. They discuss ways parents can teach their children empathy through simple demonstrations and books.

“The ability to empathize affects our children’s health, their future, their relationships, and their time in the classroom,” Linda said.

Teaching Your Child EmpathLinda crumples a paper heart to show children the effects that unkind words can have on friends, family members, or even strangers. She explains that as time passes or when someone apologizes, the heart becomes uncrumpled again, but will never be as smooth as it was originally. It’s a great way to demonstrate the impact words can have on someone’s feelings and appears in the book Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney.

“We teach children that before they speak to think and be smart because it’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart,” she said.

Linda states that the activity is not just for children. The words we use as parents can also wrinkle the heart of our child so we should be thoughtful when saying something out of anger.

Stephanie and Michele also make recommendations for books that promote teaching your child empathy in the video.

Other books mentioned in the video:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C. Stead

ABC’s of Kindness (great for kids age 2 and under) by Patricia Hagerty