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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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!