“The highest form of intelligence is empathy.” Bill Bullard.
Why is empathy in kids such an important value to inculcate? Empathy is the ability to imagine ourselves in someone’s place, particularly when they feel any negative emotions or physical pain. Human experience and empathy go hand in hand. Without the ability to understand the pain of others, we shall never garner perspective, and without perspective, there is no empathy. The driving force behind all the philanthropists in the world is empathy. Why does a billionaire in the UK feel it is his duty to save a starving child in Ethiopia? Or a ranch owner in some farm in Wyoming saves thousands of animals without any profit for himself whatsoever. Even famous scientists, though some of them are eccentric, have colossal empathy and help humanity level up.
Even though some animals exhibit qualities like empathy, most of them do not have it. It is uncommon in other species to see an animal helping out its brethren without any gain for itself. To sum it up, without empathy, humans wouldn’t have formed civilizations and progressed as much as we have in the last 200,000 years. Even before we learned how to cook food, we felt empathy and took care of our elderly and children.
Why is it important for kids to learn empathy?
Now that we have established that empathy plays a vital role in human development, why is it important to teach our kids the ability to empathize? Kids must learn empathy because it will help them succeed in life. Here’s why empathy in kids helps them succeed in life.
The intention to give something out without expecting anything is considered the wisdom of the highest order. A child will learn to care for his/her peers, making the child highly likely to become successful in jobs where teamwork is mandatory. They could be a team leader of a small company dealing with insurance claims, or they could be a senator in charge of the wellbeing of his/her state’s people. Whatever the scenario is, if a child knows to give without taking anything in return, they have mastered one of the toughest things to do.
- Good of humanity
When a child empathizes and grows up to be a full human, they get many ideas to incorporate their broad personality to help humanity. The world is full of challenges, and it needs healing more than ever. We do not need billionaires as much as do healers. And a healer of any sort, be it a climate change activist or a person who fights against discrimination, needs empathy in their core to fully utilize their prowess and save the world. We need more empathy in kids rather than competitiveness and envy and greed.
- Expansion of mind
You might have noticed that most philanthropists have a calm demeanor. It is because empathy and their application give them the ability to be sure about themselves that they are doing good. When a person’s mind is content, and he/she is at peace with themselves, they do not feel negative emotions like sadness or anger. Even if they do, they would know that their ailments are not big compared to the problems of the world, to which they must tend.
- Fulfilling lives:
Hoarding money or materials will not be seen as a noble accomplishment at death beds. And every human knows this. When you feed a hungry dog every day or help a neighbor single mom by freely babysitting while she works two jobs to make ends meet, you know in your heart that you are doing everything in your power to help the world. That feeling of betterhood gives fulfillment. Infusing empathy in kids will make them achieve a more content life both as a kid and an adult.
- Inspire the posterity:
When your child becomes the best version of himself/herself and grows up to an adult who is loved by the world, not for their musical talents or entrepreneurship, but for their kindness and empathy, they inspire their followers by showing what really matters in the world. Those followers eventually become inspirations of their own, and so on and so forth, creating a Domino effect. When this happens throughout the world, every single human would have finally shed greed and become altruistic. Then there is no stopping us, finally helping us unlock our full potential, to terraform plants to conquering galaxies.
How to instill empathy in kids?
If you are wondering how to show empathy to a child, here are some measures you can take.
- Show them the less fortunate:
Take your kids to soup kitchens or charity events where he/she can witness people being kind to each other for no reason. This will positively reinforce the belief that empathy is prevalent. There are only positive outcomes of teaching your kid empathy in early childhood.
- Caring for animals:
If you can adopt a stray and give the responsibility of caring for it to your child, it is hugely beneficial. But if you can not do that, no worries. Even making your child feed birds in the backyard will teach them to be kind to animals.
Talk to them about the sorrows of the world, like how people die of hunger and thirst or how climate change is affecting the world. When they are old enough, you can even take them to these places and show them what needs to heal and what they can contribute to the process.
Like we’ve mentioned time, and again, kids are better imitators than listeners. So if you want your kid to be empathetic and treat the world with kindness, you should do the same.
History is full of people with monumental empathy. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, among hundreds, contributed so much to the elevation of humanity. In contrast, you may also show them how people without empathy scarred the world and stunned the progress of humanity with wars and pillaging.
Empathy is innate to children, but as a parent, it is your responsibility to nourish it, making it a fundamental component of your personality. Relative simple tasks like the aforementioned ones can help a lot. Remember, when your child has empathy, he/she has the ability to change the world. And it all begins with you.