Teaching empathy can be an enormous challenge for teachers. However, if students are taught empathy early in life, then it becomes easier for them to learn about other people's feelings and desires as they grow older. Teaching empathy for the purpose of compassion has even more challenges. In the United States, at least, childhood education programs have not made much progress toward this worthy goal. Children do not learn how to extend compassion when they are young, and there is little that can be done during childhood to prepare them to deal with other people's needs.
Rather than teaching empathy as something that kids must learn in order to have successful social relationships, the best way to approach teaching empathy is to take a holistic approach to learning about people's needs and wants. In most cases, teaching children the ability to care about others comes from allowing them to experience caring about themselves first. At some point, kids should know how others feel, but they do not learn how until they are old enough to make their own decisions. For this reason, the best way to approach teaching empathy is to use current events as a lens through which to view human behavior.
Current events are great places to teach empathy to classroom children, because the events tend to be timely and relevant. For instance, most news events are immediately topical. That means kids will be able to relate to what is happening right away. This will not only enhance their understanding of the event but will also make them more open to it. Whether the news is about animals politics or sports, teaching kids about current events is relevant and valuable.
Most importantly, teaching empathy is valuable because it helps kids cultivate healthy interpersonal relationships. This will play a critical role in how well they learn to care about others. Whether they learn to care by taking part in a classroom discussion or simply helping another child with a project, their relationships will become stronger as they continue to practice the skills of compassion and caring. As they grow older, they will be ready to engage in more meaningful interactions with those who do not share the same sentiments as they do.
Classroom teachers have a large variety of choices for teaching empathy to students. One popular method is for them to create a role-play situation where one student acts as the empathic model and the other student acts as the caretaker or victim. A teacher can then help the student practice how to care about others by mirroring the actions of the caretaker or the victim. They can also learn how to model empathy by relating to one another using a similar posture, facial expression, or vocal intonation.
It is important to remember that when kids are young, they do not always understand why they are being given extra attention. To remedy this, teachers should model appropriate ways of caring when they are with children in this age group. For example, it is perfectly acceptable for parents to set a good example of caring by telling their children to put their worries and troubles in a place where they can see them. It is also crucial to explain to young children that although they may annoy their peers by becoming concerned over trivialities, such as the outcome of a sporting event, these things are usually nothing to worry about. Kids need to learn that whining only gets them attention from their peers and that worrying excessively will only make them feel worse.
When kids go to school, teachers can also practice teaching empathy by helping students overcome any negative feelings they may have over other students or teachers. One way to do this is to set up a game that pits one student against another in an attempt to outclass each other. Another effective method is for teachers to practice expressing sympathy for others through small talk, humor, and even poetry. Although some children may not find this very comfortable, they will surely appreciate being loved and cared for in return. Even the most compassionate person can become compassionate when it is needed, especially when a child needs help from someone who genuinely cares about him or her.
Overall, teaching empathy is an important skill that can benefit everyone in the world. Learning to extend kindness not only to humans but also to animals has great implications for humankind and nature. Those who practice kindness are more likely to have fulfilled lives and less likely to contribute to cruelty toward others. At the same time, kindness encourages people to care about and be a part of something larger than themselves, which is what the natural order of things is all about. Humans are a social animal, which means that at its core, we are related to one another and we need the support of others in order to survive.