Empathy means the capacity to understand or feel what another person feels or experiences in any given situation. People can generally learn empathy at any given age, but a younger person’s mind is still growing and learning (and pretty self-centered). As parent’s, we can help these young minds learn empathy as an important skill to foster healthy relationships as they age.
Here are a few things to consider regarding empathy:
Problems with a Lack of Empathy
Most imprisoned youth, despite the varying reasons for their incarceration, share only a few common traits. One of these is their lack of empathy toward others, which is why basic facts should be considered by parents: social problems, such as poverty, unsafe neighborhoods, violence and family trauma and anything else that could affect learning processes.
A teacher’s efforts can also be more successful if the students’ emotional well-being is maintained at higher standards. In addition, social and emotional skills have a strong impact on one’s ability to learn.
How to Teach Empathy
The first step to teaching youth empathy is to make sure that he or she is aware of their own emotions, the can understand how feelings affect them, and develop a vocabulary of words and terms to easily identify their emotions. Once the youth knows how to recognize and identify emotions within themselves, they can then move on to explore how these emotions affect others. A few ways to do this are.
- Model empathy toward the teen and toward other family members
- Buy a pet – children and teens can also treat animals with empathy and kindness
- Role play with dolls or action figures
- Reading fiction together with empathetic characters and
- Watching movies and discussing them.
Benefits of Empathy
In addition to the proven facts that empathetic youth are less likely to be incarcerated in a juvenile correction facility or other behavioral rehabilitation programs, empathy brings out several qualities that can be applied in everyday life. These include the following:
- Cultivates creativity and is the first step in the design process. No matter what you are crafting, being empathetic to others helps one better understand how their creation will be received by the one using it.
- Nurtures unity. It brings us together in a world that grows smaller by the day. It allows us to understand our neighbors and helps us live in peace with them. It is also at the heart of collaboration, which promotes teamwork and productivity. It helps people work together more efficiently and produce a better quality of products.
- Enhances positive emotions. These promote health and well-being, personal strengths and relationships. People with positive emotions have stronger interpersonal connections and report greater overall happiness. Scientifically, empathy causes the frontal lobes of the brain, the same part used in problem solving and planning, to be more active, exercising it and strengthening that part of the most important muscle of our body.
Given all of the benefits associated with empathy in every facet of life, parents need to cultivate this emotion in their children. Those who practice empathy gain much in their lives. However, this trait should be instilled into young people during their childhood or for those who are teens at the latest.