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Kids can learn empathy earlier than we think

Tips and tools on teaching kids to care

Tips and tools on teaching kids to care

When can children start to show that they care for others? West Camp behavior analyst and mental health counselor Stacey Trapani-Barber hints that it may begin earlier than we think.

“Newborns cry when they hear other babies crying in the nursery. Toddlers make a sad face when they see another child hurt and tearful. Preschoolers are typically able to identify and label the emotions of others,” she says. “Empathy is something that continually develops and strengthens throughout the lifespan.”

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The lessons don’t end there, though as she says it needs to be reinforced as children enter adolescence.  Here are some tips to help you reinforce empathy with your children:

  • Empathize with your child

  • Teach your child about emotions

  • Work with your child to understand their own feelings

  • Model empathy for others

  • Provide your child with opportunities to practice empathy

  • After conflicts, reflect with your child on how and what each party involved was feeling.