We all want to rear children who demonstrate empathy, right? It may be a matter of overcoming the reality gap, and practicing what we preach.
What can we, as parents, do to close this rhetoric/reality gap? The researchers give several good suggestions and many of them focus on simply setting a good example of caring for others, being respectful and fair.
Other ideas include:
- Ask your child’s teacher if they are kind to classmates, in addition to how they are performing academically
- Have children practice expressing gratitude to others in their lives (waitresses, grandparents, etc.)
- Use news stories about others who are suffering to explain to children how other people face challenges and struggles in other settings or other countries
- Give children opportunities to reach out to help others in the larger community (e.g., help at a food bank, assist an elderly neighbor)
- Read books that tell stories about empathy and kindness (these suggestions include ideas for preschool to high school age groups)