How to Teach Compassion and Empathy

Compassion an action which includes having concern for the sufferings of other people. It is being sensitive to the distress seen in others, and this leads to the desire to help the person who’s suffering. When the values of kindness, mercy, and sympathy are inculcated among children, it would be very easy for them to be compassionate to those who visibly need help like victims of war, natural calamities, people who are sick, and those who beg for food in order to eat or those who are living in poverty.

Empathy is to be keenly aware of the moods and emotions in others. It is the power to enter into the feelings of the other person — the capacity of a person to put himself or herself in someone else’s shoes. It is an emotional projection of oneself and the ability to understand others.

Both compassion and empathy are the results of being sensitive to the plight of a person who is in the midst of an unpleasant or unfortunate situation which may bring forth the feelings of pity, mercy, help, care and a thorough understanding of their circumstances. These virtues are also taught through early learning experiences at Giggles Early Learning, a childcare in Bexley.

Teaching the values of compassion and empathy may not be helpful if only done through lip-service. Instilling both values will be more effective through diverse early learning experiences,  and others can be thoroughly explained and demonstrated by the parents.

These tips can be used to raise a child who is compassionate and empathetic:

  1. When your child expresses his or her sympathetic feelings to a beggar in the street, you can promote compassion by encouraging them to help and explain to your child the importance of acknowledging or being sensitive to the person’s need to beg. A great way to do this would be to volunteer in a homeless shelter to assist those in need; which would ultimately help your children grow in understanding of their circumstances.
  1. Discuss with your child the situations seen on TV about the people who are victims of wars and calamities, making him or her realize the value of  helping to those people undergoing hardships which are not of their own is extremely important. It is also useful for your child to realize that the small acts of kindness can help the victims’ situation and will help renew the victims’ lives, and rise from the unfortunate event. Acts of charity are also held in different experiences and are also taught in a preschool in Bexley like Giggles ELC. Our childcare centre has participated in many different charitable causes and we invite you to come along and participate!
  1. Understanding the value of empathy can be achieved when a child emulates a good samaritan or the professionals who are working to save lives, such as doctors, firemen, rescuers, among others. Seeing a good doctor going through a lot of sacrifices in terms of time, effort and their own safety just to save lives may inspire them to go through the same situation and to aim to be also good in serving the lives of others. It is literally putting oneself in the shoes of others and having the desire and satisfaction in it. It is empathy that will push them to be in affinity and appreciation of what these good role models are achieving and bringing to humanity.
  1. The parents must be quick to nurture such determination and insistence expressed by the child. Strengthening these particular feelings can be an effective learning tool in teaching such character traits. Consistency in reminding them of the values of compassion and empathy help a lot in the teaching-learning process. Teachers, carers, and educators at a kindergarten in Bexley are also influential in shaping the kids’ character.
  1. The parents’ sincerity in honing these values should be felt by the children. The importance of setting themselves as role models should be highly emphasized as kids are quick to identify the real moods and behaviours of their parents when they react to particular situations. This is shown when parents react to news about people wallowing in poverty or about the persons suffering from inhumane actions. Parents should be careful when making careless reactions especially when the kids are around. Being truthful to the kids but making sure that what they hear are age-appropriate will help a lot in instilling values in them, without upsetting or scaring them.

In the end, children will realize that empathy is synonymous with appreciation, insight, and sensitivity. When they are insensitive to the feelings of others they may also tend to be unfeeling to other living things, valuables, and creations. Empathy has not been fully developed. Being compassionate moves a child to be kind, helpful, and considerate. When the child displays cruelty even to animals, the parent can take advantage of the situation to encourage compassion and respect towards all living things.

It is also good to note that character development is not only taught, but is also caught. Therefore, the child’s learning of both values has a great chance to be truly successful in the hands of parents and teachers who have the wisdom to provide an effective learning situation, a suitable environment, alongside positive reinforcement. Teaching them these virtues will help them make the right decisions when they reach adulthood; allowing them to be instrumental in changing the world, for the better.

Photo courtesy of:

maxlkt / 202 images via Pixabay under the Creative Commons CC0.

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