9 Ways To Teach Your Students Empathy


One morning at the school, all the kids are hurrying to their classrooms up stairs but suddenly a child slips and falls down. Few children stop by to help the child  get up and comfort him, some others just ignore the child and proceed to their classes and some others laugh at the child.

In this situation, the children who stopped by to help the child have shown empathy. But it does not mean that the other children do not have empathy. Everyone has empathy, but some freely display it and some others are not sure how to define it. Empathy is a complex emotion, separate from pity and not always easy to explain. So how do you teach empathy to your students? Well, here are few ways in which you can do so.



1. Encourage Students To Befriend Each Other

To inculcate empathy, one should at least realize what others feel and what their emotions are. Encourage them to interact with children outside of their friends group. When students make friends they realize that their thoughts differ from others’. Over time, they also realize that they need to think about the feelings of others before saying or doing anything.

Teacher helping injured student

Teacher helping injured student

2. Show Them What Empathy Is

Empathy is best understood when shown. Students understand what empathy is when you show them acts of empathy like comforting upset or frustrated children in your classroom or saying sorry and thank you wherever needed. Children understand that gratitude is an important aspect of empathy. They try to imitate your acts of empathy because children learn most things from their teachers.

Team work

Team work

3. Engage Students In Team Work

Whenever you want your students to work in groups, make sure that you put your students in completely different groups, where they dont have friends. This will make your students realize the importance of cooperating with each other in order to complete a given task. Involving students in team work is a good idea to teach students empathy because students personally experience and understand the need for empathy.

Emotional student

Emotional student

4. Make Sure If The Emotional Needs Of Students Are Met

Before teaching students about empathy, you should make sure if the emotional needs of your students are met. Children can think about the emotions of others only if their basic emotional needs are met. If they are afraid , angry or sad, they will most likely lash out instead of empathizing. Talk to the child and find out if he/she is feeling alright. Find out what bothers them and if possible, do your best to fix it. You can also talk to the parents of the child and see if everything is all right at home. There are some things of course that you will understand about your students’ behavior.

Two students exchanging their roles

Two students exchanging their roles

5. Ask Them To Imagine How They Feel In Different Situations

Organize fun activities where children get to act as their friends. This gives them an opportunity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. This might just seem as a fun-activity to the students but has a great effect on their thoughts. Giving your students a sticky situation and asking them how they feel if they were in it, allows them to think from different perspectives.

Friendly parent

Friendly parent

6. Talk To Parents And Encourage Empathy At Homes

Empathy in children cannot be inculcated only by teachers. Parents also play a great role in teaching empathy to their children. Children cultivate most habits from their parents, siblings or other family members and empathy should be one of them too.

You can suggest a few ways in which parents can teach their kids empathy, but it is most likely that most parents already would have done so.

Teacher rewarding her student

Teacher rewarding her student

7. Reward Students Based On Character

Rewarding students based on their character can be tricky at times, but as a teacher, to encourage empathy in students some standard is required. Do not let students know that you are calmly observing their daily behavior. Observe them and reward the child who practice empathy and other good habits without the lure of a prize.

Student thinking of the qualities he has in common with his friends

Student thinking of the qualities he has in common with his friends

8. Help Children Understand What They Have In Common With Others

Ask your students to make a list of things that they and their friends have in common. Later ask them to make list of common things between themselves and someone random in the classroom. When children start realizing what they have a lot in common with someone else, despite not even knowing them, they realize that one must not make judgements about others until they know about them..

An example for empathy

An example for empathy

9. Use Everyday Examples To Develop Empathy In Students For People

Children understand things better when these things are demonstrated to them. Encourage them to help people and appreciate them when they do it. Ask them different questions about people who are needy and what they would to help them. Give them an opportunity to explore their positive inner side. Make them realize that showing empathy is a good quality and they should not let it go. Most importantly, make sure you teach them that empathy and pity are two different qualities and should not be confused for each other.

What ways have you used to teach empathy to your students? Did you use any of the above ways? Was it helpful? Please let us know your experiences in the comment section below!


About Author

Rohia is an aspiring writer, who once upon a time used to be an engineer, until she decided to follow her true passion, writing. She enjoys playing piano, listening to music and singing too.


  1. Abbas Khaleel SM on

    Once again you touched the current generation issue ……………..,
    Todays present generation even don’t know what is empathy and when and how to show.
    complete article is informative and excellent.
    Yes, as you said, one has to teach children the difference between pity and empathy, children should not confuse between both.
    Good work.

  2. Mrs. Mahmuda Shaheen on

    Nice Article.
    As mentioned in point 3; shuffling teams make students to understand each other and teaches them the need of empathy.
    Also, both parents and also teachers can work on point 9 , to make understand children what is empathy.

    • Yes, parents should cooperate with the teachers and teach their children what empathy is. Thank you Mrs. Mahmuda, I am glad you liked the article.

  3. Empathy has to start from home, as mentioned in your article, parents have to show and teach what is empathy. Children use to imitate their elders mostly parents, so its best way to teach them. Also in schools teachers has to encourage the same. What you mentioned in point no:4 is true.

    • You are right,children often imitate their elders so elders should take care of what they do and say in the presence of their children. Thank you Ms. Ameera, I am glad you liked the article.

  4. Abbas Khaleel SM on

    I agree with Ms. Ali, elders have to be careful and exhibit correct feelings about others. Same time as mentioned in point 8, we have to make our children to understand what are common things between them and their respective friends. Surely it will make difference.

    • You are right, asking students to think about the common qualities between them and their friends teaches them to put themselves in others’ place and see the situation in a different perspective.

  5. I went through your article and also comments posted by Engr.Abbas and others. Its nice presentation.
    As you mentioned in 2nd paragraph, unless until, we show/exibit what is empathy., they won’t understand. Second thing is you have to start this when children are in tender age or in lower class like LKG – till 5th class.

    • Thank you Mr. Khalid, I am glad you found the article useful. You are right, children should be taught empathy right from their early childhood.

  6. “Most importantly, make sure you teach them that empathy and pity are two different qualities and should not be confused for each other.”

    I am glad you added this important distinction. Even adults confuse empathy and pity so it is imperative that we teach children the difference between these two emotions.

    This is a lovely article and I am glad you have tackled this side of being a teacher too.

Leave A Reply