“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” — Theodore Roosevelt
All parents want to raise kind, empathetic children who make the world a better place. However, not all of them take active steps to build empathy in their children. Empathy does take a bit of practice and parents should make a conscious effort to develop it in children. The first step towards that would be to create an emotions-friendly home.
In this article, we will cover how to help children to express their emotions and create an emotion friendly home with this step-by-step guide. For quicker acceptance by children, you could start with the first step and then go to the next step. This method was listed in the book UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World by Michele Borba.
Paying attention to the other person is the basic principle of empathy. Stopping or pausing everything when the other person speaking is the first step towards developing empathy. To translate that at home, you could enforce the 4T rule when others are talking or are present.
Once the children know how to pay undivided attention to others around them, step two can be implemented. Reading other’s emotions is easier when you look at their face. It helps one to pick the speaker’s tone, expressions, and other emotional cues. Noticing the speaker’s eye colour is one great way to maintain eye contact. You could also ask the shy child to notice the bridge of the speaker’s nose instead of noticing the eye colour. In the family, you could hold staring contests among children to make them more comfortable with eye contact.
Once the child can pay undivided attention to the speaker and maintain eye contact, you are ready for a third step. Children need to be able to label their emotions to build empathy. Here are a few ways of helping your child build ‘feelings’ vocabulary.
Simply stating your observations, validating the child’s emotions by listening to what is being said empathetically will help them develop the vocabulary needed to express their emotions.
By the time you reach this step, children will have an adequate vocabulary to express their emotions and are more likely to search for opportunities to express them. Parents can support this by asking questions such as “How do you feel?” or by using statements such as “You must have felt so good after receiving the prize.” Encourage children to ask such questions as well. It will normalise expressing feelings in your house.
This approach will work with younger children beautifully. Parents need to remember that consistency is key. You can also help your children achieve this faster by increasing face-to-face conversations by unplugging often and having at least one meal together as a family.
Do you think that this approach will help you create an emotion friendly home? What are some other ways of ensuring an emotion friendly home? Let us know in the comments below.
“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She’s the only ‘Mekhala’ she knows, and she takes a bit of pride in that. She is a quintessential introvert. Mekhala loves tea but cannot make a good cup of tea and often ends up having coffee. She claims that she takes all adjectives as complements unless specified otherwise. Mekhala is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grade 2 & 3, as a part of Teach For India Fellowship. And has worked as an independent consultant for a couple of years.
My mentor Raksha Chettri has been my pillar of strength from day one. It is her constant guidance and encouraging words that have helped me become a lifelong learner. A big thanks to her and BYJU'S - The Learning App.
BYJU'S app has helped me understand Maths and Science in a fun way. Now, I study from the app, understand concepts, and then go through my textbooks.
BYJU'S is the bridge that connects my imagination to my reality. The engaging study videos with real-life examples help me understand concepts not only from an exam point of view but as a lesson for life.