Have you ever noticed that our babies usually cry when they listen to the crying of another baby? It can’t be just a pure reaction to noise, but it’s a sensation.
Let’s think about the adults. When someone in front of us is unhappy or frustrated or upset; we also start feeling the same way.
However, being able to “notice and absorb” another person’s feelings doesn’t inevitably reach to caring behavior. Empathy is learned.
“Our son, Aaron, was 16 months old when we took him to our relative’s place. They have a kid, Ethan, of the same age. As they were enjoying each other’s company and playing together, both boys suddenly stood in front of the same toy. I thought of it to be natural initially, but after some time everyone noticed the screams coming from a playroom. Both the kids were actually fighting to keep that toy. That situation was so embarrassing”, Jennifer was telling her story with teary eyes.
This incident is not a new one. In fact, all of us must be prepared to face this situation ones in life.
We frequently spend the toddler years with stubborn statements of “Mine!” and “Me!” But below to that is a growing realization that other people also have the feelings.
Kids assuredly learn about humanity and empathy from getting it and from observing other people doing it, but that is usually not sufficient.
Below given are few methods to grow a caring and compassionate child.
Label their feelings and emotions:
Even the talkative kids may not have the correct words to explain some of the roaring emotions they meet. We must try to bring up emotions and feelings in regular conversations with kids so that they get to know the appropriate words.
For example, Jenny has two teenagers, James (3-years old) and Jacob (12-months old.) When Jacob cried, Jenny asked James why. At this time, James might say “Fall” or “Ouch.” But, Jenny is wise enough to offer some guidance to James. She says, “Do you know your small brother is feeling sad because his elder brother has taken all his toys?”
These exchanges during communication might help reinforce James’s developing awareness of others’ emotions and feelings, and make him familiar with the words to explain them.
Our kids love the spotlight, therefore try to make kids the center of their lesson.
I usually pull out an old photo album or video just to point the pictures or clips of my son. I reveal his feelings in words like you looking happy in this photo, you used to be calm at the time I shoot this video, or why are you looking so cranky in this picture?
I do nothing other than labelling his feelings. It is the best way to improve my kid’s vocabulary and to develop a caring personality in him.
The demonstration is the key:
Our kids develop empathy when they watch us interacting with other people. Thus, we must try to be as humble as possible in front of our kids.
The way we communicate with others, the words and tone we use while speaking; kids absorb everything.
We must use every single opportunity to show sympathy and compassion.
Training on the variations:
If we carefully look at it, we notice that toddlerhood is perhaps the first time in our kid’s life that her/his wishes and ours are not eternally in sync.
When our children are babies, we feed them when they are hungry. But now, if they are hungry and want to eat only a big piece of that particular cake—we might not allow them.
Many parents find it difficult to handle this situation, but I see an opportunity in it.
It is a perfect time to teach our kid about the variations. We can tell them how different people could have different views, thoughts, and opinions. Similarly, emotions and feelings could vary from person to person.
These three methods are so useful and curated from my personal experience. If you follow any other strategy to grow a kid who actually cares about others, then please use the comment box to share with us those strategies.
My Pro Parenting Tips or simply MPPT is a team of passionate parent bloggers. We collect the thoughts of parents and weave them into words (parenting lessons.) We look at some of the common problems faced by parents and then come up with a unique solution to solve those problems.