How to teach young children to be empathetic towards others?

08 Jul
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Nowadays, we see that young children lack the empathy they should have for others. We encounter cases where these young ones bully each other, form a group against a particular person and in extreme cases, physically hurt each other. They also make fun of each other on the basis of the way one looks or talks. How can we make them understand that this behavior can hurt the person badly? What ways can the parents adopt to make sure that their children do not indulge in such behaviors and how can the educational institutions help in the character formation of their young students?

Responses 5

  • Ayushi Jolly
    Ayushi Jolly   Jul 20, 2017 11:57 AM

    Hello there!

    Raising children in thr right way and ensuring they adapt to the environment an dgain appropriate values is one tough task. It takes a lifetime to raise a child and still there is no guarantee.

    I will take your query one by one.

    Starting from empathy,it is a feeling which is not developed until the age of 5 or more because the child's natural development does not alow him to. The young child is engrossed in ego-centrism which is natural. However,when the child turns older and reaches the 7-8 years bridge,then he can be taught to empathize and likewise. He can be taight such things by sharing,reinforcements,social exposure,observation.

    Coming to is more prevelant in a alter age bar of 12-17 years. Here,bullying can arise from change of environment to to one's family style or lifestyle. However, most of the bullies have been victims themselves and seek a sadistic pleasure in indulging in it. Being out-grouped is the worst part of teenage but one has to suffer. Here, educational institutes play an important role. They must be aware of what is going on in the school and must not overlook any kind of misbehaviour.

    I believe empathy has become a difficult task to achieve since earlier people shared more number of siblings and now we have a majority of single children so they cannot practically learn sharing,developing feelings and concern to that extent. If they learn how to sympathize,that is a n achievement in itself.

    Hope it helps!

  • Manaswini Venkateswaran
    Manaswini Venkateswaran   Jul 12, 2017 10:25 PM

    My father always made it a point to emphasize the fact that everyone does not receive the same upbringing, the same kind of teachings or privileges that I do. Hence, everyone turns out differently. Being accepting of these differences is something I was taught from a very young age. 

    Children are impressionable. What they learn growing up is, more or less, what stays with them forever. We must encourage them to respect each others' differences and lend a helping hand to those who are less fortunate rather than ridiculing them for being products of their less-than-favorable circumstances. 

    An ideology like karma (or something similar) which states that the good you do will come back to you can also help to encourage helping behaviors in children. Convincing them from a young age that there's no harm in helping others once in a while instead of harming them and that it will always benefit them ultimately, helps.  

    Society is getting more individualistic and competitive, which is why we feel like the only way to do well is to trample others on the way to success. This is untrue and a very toxic attitude to hold.  

    The solution lies in the root cause, which is the mindset.  

  • Shubhanshi Singh
    Shubhanshi Singh   Jul 11, 2017 01:47 PM

    Hello there! 

    Everyone of us has faced this problem where we have been victims of bullying. It's obvious for a person to fall prey to such situations to show their power and control over others. A person being bullied must raise his/her voice against this but what the other people who watch the person being bullied and yet don't say anything? What are we so afraid of? Why can't a student have the courage to file a complaint against the bully? The student knows that strict action won't be taken against it, the bully would instead make them their target. Who would want to push themselves into this situation? No one. That's why nobody says anything. 

    Thats why it is important for proper implimintation of rules in the school and not just passing one for the sake of it. Students should feel free to express the problems they are going through without being afraid. The school can keep the name of the student anonymous. 

    Workshops and classes can be conducted where the students can be told to cultivate the empathetic skill so they can understand the emotions of other and be a helping hand. Parents can encourage the child to be kind and sympathetic to others. 

  • Priya Ratti
    Priya Ratti   Jul 09, 2017 05:50 PM

    Bullying is a two way process: both the person bullying and the person being bullied have problems. So, it is important to understand and look for ways both the sides can reach some resolution to the conflict.

    The person who is being bullied usually experiences this because of his/her inability to speak up and go against what is bothering them. They are usually either too shy or too intimidated by their bully. Even going to an authority, like the school Principal or the teacher or the parents sometimes puts them in fear that the bully will punish them for speaking out. Yes, the CBSE has guidelines that counselling cells be set up in schools, and following this guideline could prove to be beneficial to some extent. But, what if the person being bullied is afraid to approach anyone? I think India lacks constitional backing for this, as there are no laws or institutions to protect people from certain forms of bullying.

    The person who is bullying has his own problems as well. He/She may be experiencing problems at home, frustration, or some trauma during their childhood that has forced them to release their pent up emotions in the form of aggression. They need help, too, but because they are the inflictors of physical/emotional/psychological pain, this is often overlooked. 

    Yes, the lack of empathy is broadly the reason why this bullying epidemic continues to flourish. Empathy is a virtue that is inculcated in a person throughout his or her growth years; it can't just be acquired like that. It is taught to children in Life Skills. But bullying is a problem because people fail to differentiate between just casual jokes and banter and verbal harassment or abuse. You never know what might hurt someone. What comprises bullying for you might not be bullying for me. So, drawing a line here is important, however subjective it may be.

    I think until a law governs bullying, it can't really be helped. But, the development of empathy should be fostered among the young generation by showing them the long term negative impacts of the lack of empathy. 

    APOORVA PANDEY   Jul 08, 2017 09:18 PM


    Merely telling kids to be empathetic or genuinely care for others isn't really a solution to this. True that children tend to see the ongoing situation of war and conflict around them and may get influenced, however, one must never forget that a child's immediate environment, one's family is what teaches a child to be a particular way. So if a child makes fun of others, bullies them and hurts them, one must understand that its reasons lie somewhere in the family environment. If the family environment is such that fosters genuine care, which is free of squabbles and conflict among family members, children tend to internalise those values irrespective of what goes around them. Well if on one hand we want children to genuinely care for others but at the same time send our parents to oldage homes, we can very well image what kind of values such a child will inherit.

    Thus for inculcating good values in children, the first step should be adherence to such values themselves by the parents and the school staff. As I had my entire schooling in a missionary school, we always had a moral science class twice a week. I literally hated them. Today,I realise the difference that they have made to my life! This is another way how schools can help mould a child. 

    A child's mind is a blank slate. To act as a chalk and etch the values of care and empathy depends completely on the family.


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