While you do want to teach your child to have good self-esteem, you must guard against teaching them that only their own feelings matter.
Help your child care about others by showing your own care and concern for them and others.
Voice your thoughts and feelings about world events and find examples that you can discuss to help put words and definitions of those words to feelings.
Get a Pet
Having a pet, if you ensure your child takes the responsibility, can give children a big lesson on empathy.
The reason is that a pet is essentially helpless in the world, no matter how old they are, and due to that the humans, who have been entrusted to care for them are all they have.
If the pet isn’t clean he’ll be uncomfortable. If the pet isn’t fed and watered she’ll be uncomfortable, hungry and could even die.
There are tons of ways pets can teach kids empathy.
Demonstrate Acts of Kindness
Whether it’s allowing someone with fewer groceries to break the line or giving up a night out to take care of your sick sister’s children or taking a casserole to your neighbor who broke her leg, demonstrating acts of kindness in front of children is the best way to encourage them to act in the same way.
The more kindness children witness the kinder they will become.
Expect Your Child to Help
Don’t assume that a child cannot have empathy or compassion. Instead, assume that your child will help around the house, and act in the right way.
If your neighbor needs help taking care of their pets assume your child will be happy to help and act accordingly.
Teach your children the Golden Rule and demonstrate it to them regularly.
Put Labels on Feelings
Most of the time while we do have words for anger and sadness the other emotions are left out in the cold.
It’s important to describe for your child and put labels on feelings and emotions so that they understand what is happening.
You want your child to be able to express a variety of feelings and not just one or the other.
By labeling and explaining empathy, for example, you will make them more aware of how important it is.
Be Considerate of Others Yourself
The best lessons for children is what parents do, almost more than what they say. If you are not nice to people, don’t expect your kids to be.
If you bestow judgment on the woman paying for groceries with her EBT card by talking about it in a negative way to your kids, they’re not going to be very empathetic about the needs of others.
What’s worse is if they ever find themselves in need they’ll feel shame.
Don’t Gossip About Other People
Sometimes it’s hard to have a no gossip rule, but it’s the best thing to do. Teach your children how to handle gossip when it’s about others or themselves.
Tell them when kids are gossiping about someone that they should simply bow out of the discussion and leave.
They don’t have to say anything if they don’t want to, but by not participating they can put a stop to it around themselves.
But, if it’s important for them to stand up and speak out against the gossips to help the person being gossiped about let them know that’s okay to do too.
How you act is very important. For example, let’s say that your child wakes up in a bad mood.
While it’s not fair for your child to try to make everyone else in a bad mood, you can show empathy by expressing how sad you are that they’re feeling puny and give them a hug while at the same time asking them to talk about their mood and move past their bad mood.
This is the same way they can treat that mean kid at school. They can realize that they have no idea what type of life that child has at their home.
They could have a drunk for a mom, and an abuser for a dad. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors.
Helping your child learn to care about others is an important part of raising children into productive, valuable members of society when they are adults.
After all, as parents, your job is to turn out adults who make the world better, not adults who take everything for themselves as if life is a game of winner takes all.