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Parenting - 2 Childhood Dilemmas for Teaching Kids Empathy

Boy Cheating
 
Teaching Empathy Through Dilemmas
       Can Be Done

 

Childhood dilemmas help your kids think more deeply about choices.  They can teach empathy too. 

In this post, Carter is a math whiz. But he didn't study for his test and he couldn't remember how to solve some problems. He secretly pulled out his calculator and cheated. 

Ask your child questions like:

1. Can you understand Carter's feelings? Please explain.

2. What thoughts might have helped Carter to avoid cheating?

3. Can you explain Carter's dilemma?

4. What advice would you give Carter? Why?

5. Have you ever faced a difficult dilemma where you had to make a quick choice?

6. Would you like to discuss it?

Having empathy for someone doesn't mean you agree with their behavior. Empathy can soften harsh judgments and can help the person deal with what they've done.

 

IStock_000009721676XSmall.jpg.girl.stealing.cookies
 
Understanding Others Is a Form of Empathy.
 

 

Meredith wanted to see an R rated movie, but her mother disapproved. Meredith's friends were going. So Mededith decided to take her mom's money from the cookie jar and sneak off with her friends. Her mother nabbed her in the act.

Ask your child:

1. Can you understand Meredith's feelings about seeing the movie with her friends?

2. How many solutions can you think of to help Meredith avoid stealing?

3. If Meredith's mom hadn't caught her, how might she have felt about taking the money?

4. What advice would you give Meredith?

5. Have you ever felt a strong desire to do something, but your parents disapproved?

6. If yes, can you talk about it?

Understanding others' problems can help your child forgive others when they've been wronged, enjoy a kinder heart, and accept herself when she makes her own errors in judgment.

When you chat with your child about childhood dilemmas, you teach character, understanding, and empathy for others. 

Father and Son 700
 
Kids Love to Share Their Thoughts with Parents Who
Listen.

 

When kids think through specific dilemmas, it helps them with decisions and choices because a similar problem may occur in their near future. Since they've already considered it in detail, they'll know better which choice to make.

 

Articles with Similar Helpful Content

Social Conscience: How to Use Moral Dilemmas Effectively with Kids

 

How Parents Build Character with Fun Moral Dilemmas

 

 

Like this post? Please comment and share it with your friends on social media.

Thank you so much.

With warm wishes, 

Jean Tracy, MSS

******

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How Parents Teach Children Empathy - 7 Steps

Empathy Critical 900
 
Empathy CAN Be Taught

PARENTS CAN TEACH CHILDREN EMPATHY WITH SIMPLE DISCUSSIONS. Today you and your child will find a childhood behavior to discuss, what mindsets to avoid, and 7 easy steps for teaching empathy.  Use it to help your child grow into a caring person who understands others.

Ask your youngster to analyze this situation by asking, “What don’t we know?”

Sarah gave her friend, Jane, a friendly punch. Jane yelled, “Stop it!” and hit Sarah hard.

Ask your child, "What don't we know?"

Hopefully, she answered, “We don’t know why Jane hit Sarah back so hard.”

Many kids might judge Jane and call her names. But that would put Jane on the defensive and make her mad because no one wants to be judged harshly.

Rather than being a critical judge, ask your child to think of some positive reasons why Jane may have hit Sarah. Why positive?

Usually, when someone does something, even if it’s negative,  it’s for a positive reason. We call it the ‘positive intent.’ This is because the doer, (Jane) is getting something positive out of her behavior.

Yelling girls
 
What Positive Reasons Do Kids Have for Acting Badly?

 

Here are some sample reasons:

  1. Maybe Sarah told her class a big secret about Jane's family and Jane found out. Now Jane’s breaking off the friendship.

 

  1. Maybe Sarah has given Jane too many friendly punches that have bruised her in the past. Now Jane’s showing her what it feels like to stop Sarah from punching her again.

 

  1. Maybe Jane was ridiculed by her class for a wrong answer and she thought Sarah’s friendly punch was intended to tease her for it. Jane’s hitting tells Sarah her teasing isn’t funny.

 

Who knows why Jane reacted the way she did? We’re not mind readers. Only Jane really knows. 

But stepping into Jane’s shoes and trying to see the situation from her point of view, your child is on the path to understanding and empathy.

Tell your child, “It’s hard to feel empathy for Jane or anyone else if you’re judging with a mean critical mind.”

Bigstock_Family_Problems_183002
 
Your Child CAN Switch Her Critical Judgments  to
Understanding Thoughts

 

Rather than judge, teach your child to:

  1. Switch your critical thoughts to exploring positive reasons why she did what she did.
  2. Avoid calling names or making accusations.
  3. Ask don't tell. "Why did you...? rather than, "You did it because..."
  4. Listen without judgment.
  5. Try to see her point of view.
  6. Show empathy with understanding comments like, "I can see why you felt that way."
  7. Suggest she apologize, if appropriate.

If you do, she just might follow your suggestion. All because you asked, listened and cared.

Another important point, when someone acts poorly and you understand why they did it, doesn't mean you agree with their negative behavior. It does mean you chose to understand it.

Use these steps, whenever your child tells you about another child’s negative behaviors. Your discussions will be interesting, and you’ll be teaching her to be an empathic person with an understanding character.

Watch this 2 minute video with 5 questions to help your child turn from criticism to empathy.

How Parents Teach Empathy to Kids


 

The Transcript with the 5 Questions is beneath the video at YouTube when you click Show More. 

Bonus Articles with Videos:

7 Ways to Encourage Positive Brain Power in Your Child   

The Positive Child - 18 Top Parenting Tips and Tools 

Like this post? Please share it with your friends on social media.

Thank you so much.

With warm wishes, 

Jean Tracy, MSS

******

Sign up for my FREE Parenting News and receive:

  • 80 Fun Activities to Share with Your Kids
  • 101 Ways to Get Your Children to Cooperate