Pediatric Therapy Corner: 7 Questions To Ask Kids To Encourage Empathy

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[Source:  To the Max]


These smart ideas for encouraging children to be more empathetic are from Start Empathy, a new education initiative created by the nonprofit Ashoka. The goal is to get kids and adults thinking about the topic—key for raising kids who understand others’ feelings and perspectives, and key for raising kids who care. These seven questions will help get even the most me-centric kid (and what kid isn’t?!) thinking about other people.

“How does that make you feel?”

This is a good question to ask when a child is upset or feels wronged in some way. Help them to be as specific as possible; the ability to name precise emotions and articulate how and why you’re feeling a particular way is key to what’s known as self-regulation, enabling a child to respond appropriately to feelings of varying intensity.

“Do you know at times I’ve also felt scared?”

While naming emotions is a great way to deepen a child’s self-understanding and emotional understanding, kids may not have the vocabulary necessary to articulate precisely what they’re feeling, and they might feel self-conscious for feeling that way. As a first step, try sharing times in which you, too, have felt upset or alone. Around the dinner table, don’t just ask your child about his or her day; be sure to talk about your own, and how certain developments or events made you feel, says Roots of Empathy founder Mary Gordon.

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