“Try to put yourself in someone else's shoes.” Many of us recall this classic phrase back to childhood, whether it was repeated by a parent or a teacher. This saying highlights the concept of empathy, or being able to understand and relate to the feelings of another. Empathy is a mature concept that should be introduced to children early on. Here are some benefits of encouraging your children to be more empathetic beings:
1) Positive mental health. People that have strong empathy towards others exhibit higher levels of overall happiness. Being able to relate to others and share their experiences and emotions is critical to feeling connected to one's community and surroundings. Empathy teaches children to foster a positive attitude towards others.
2) Better relationships. In people of all ages, empathy is linked with the formation of strong and healthy relationships. Being able to relate to another person on a deeper, more personal level is crucial when building the foundations of a long-lasting friendship.
3) Academic and career success. Students with high empathy for others also perform better in school. Academic success is made up of many factors, from self-confidence to communication skills. Empathy helps foster many of these qualities, and these traits carry on into adulthood.
4) Discourages emotional problems. Children with empathy are unlikely to participate in bullying or risky behaviors, especially those at another person's expense. Empathetic children are more likely to “do the right thing” when faced with tough situations.
5) Strengthens connection to the world. Empathy encourages children to feel a stronger connection to others, especially those in need. Students with empathy are more likely to participate in volunteer programs, which also gives them a promising advantage on college applications as well.
6) Enhanced communication skills. Being able to communicate effectively with others is a requirement of success. When you can easily relate to another person, it becomes much easier to exchange ideas and thoughts with each other. Communication skills are vital both in an academic environment as well as the workplace.
7) Encourages tolerance and acceptance. In today's world, kids are exposed to a lot through media and technology. Unfortunately, groups and individuals with hateful and prejudice ideologies still exist. Empathy teaches your children to look away from these viewpoints and be tolerant and accepting of others.
8) Gratefulness. Empathy reminds us to be thankful for the important things in life, and that we are fortunate for the people and places we treasure. This encourages family closeness and an overall positive outlook on life.