Teaching Empathy to Kids
I feel like I just got sucker punched. Gasping in pain. Emotional pain. My sons emotional pain.
The empathy subject presents itself often, now that I know what it means, now that I know I am a Highly Sensitive Person.This awareness was huge for me in my self-awareness trek, and has allowed me to be more forgiving of myself when I get frazzled in overstimulated environments and helps me to make wiser choices given my awareness and peace with who I am and what affects my senses may interpret and how to take care of myself.I am an advocate for the value and importance of educating and empowering kids to get anchored in their own self-awareness and self-expression, and feel the lack of this knowledge is the core of many problems we, and our children, face today.Empathy is a huge part of this.
A recent example looks like this:
Recently new neighbors moved in right next door. They have 2 kids that are about the same age as ours. The boy is a year older than my son, they both like to skateboard and have similar other interests and friends. The girls are a little farther apart in age but love to sleep over, make mud pies and play teacher.Recently the neighbor boy has excluded my son when he has other friends over and hitting some soft spots. Friday morning was the last day of the school book fair, my son was anxious to leave early for school to have time to go, the decision was tough so we agreed to not haste and meet back to revisit right after school. After some agonizing, my son was finally very sure and very happy with his choice, he opened his own wallet and pulled out his last ten dollars to buy a poster of a dragon for his room and with the small amount left over, he bought his sister a pointer she wanted to play teacher with.They ran up ahead and by the time I caught up my boy walked towards me with a look of distress and buried his head into my chest as he sobbed and told me the neighbor had just told him his poster was...."Lame." ...and he said it in front of a 4th grader. It is clear to me that the neighbor "friend" had no idea of the dilemma and last dollars that went into the poster that he just deemed as "Lame."
I hesitate to even rant about this, because I have grown up with the shrug of being "too sensitive", as I am sure many people still would do. However, I feel it is important virtue to bring into the light and hope parents will stop shrugging the "too sensitive" shrug-off over such matters.I am fortunate to say my new neighbors are on the same page, so that we are comfortable using these situations that arise, as they often do,to teach valuable lessons and work with our kids to better deal with their feelings and self-doubts. My biggest intention as a parent is to empower the youth to be good role models. Less competition and more working together is far more rewarding on the path to being "cool."
I urge us all to take a moment extra to look at the scenarios that play out in our interactions throughout the day by considering not only our own big feelings, but how it may feel in the other person's shoes.