I’ve come up with 5 Easy Activities to Foster Empathy in Preschoolers because I feel this is an important skill even small children need to practice so they can grow up into the world’s changemakers of tomorrow.
And you know what inspired me to share this? T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge with their partner, Ashokha.
Well, first, what is a changemaker? Well, according to Ashoka, it revolves around 3 key qualities:
To further encourage these qualities in our children, T-Mobile launched the Changemaker Challenge last spring. The program was a huge a success, so T-Mobile and the T-Mobile Foundation are actively looking to repeat that success this year.
They’re seeking this years entrants (now through September 26th 2019)
Specifically they’re looking for entrants for ideas that focus on Technology, Environment and Education as a means for creating more connected, sustainable and inclusive communities.
Which brings me back to activities to foster empathy in preschoolers. It’s so important that they learn to empathize with others early-on as it’s really like a muscle.
You have to practice it all the time to be able to use it when it really counts.
So, I came up with these easy activities. Hopefully, they spark some inspiration in you to help raise changemakers.
5 Easy Activities to Foster Empathy in Preschoolers
- Modeling. Look, despite what it seems like sometimes, kids do copy EVERYTHING that we do. Yeah, I know, you’ve slept and they don’t do that, LOL! But they really do copy us. So if you want to get them being empathetic, you will have to show empathy when you have the opportunity to do so. For example: when you see a person that needs help, instead of just passing by because “you’re busy” or “you don’t want to get involved: or “you have kids with you”, help them. Take that moment to model empathetic behavior for your kids. And they’ll pick up on it.
- Offering “opportunities”. If you haven’t guessed by my photos, let me explain what I mean by offering “opportunities” to be empathetic. Even if you live a very insular life, there are situations where someone or something needs your empathy. Even if it’s a little manufactured. This gives your child a chance to practice their empathetic actions and “build those muscles” so to speak. That’s exactly what we were doing the day that we repaired my daughter’s stuffed kitten. There was a hole in the tail and I used that as an opportunity to let my daughter take the lead in showing empathy. So we sewed the hole closed, as per my daughter’s request (because that’s what you do when your kitty is hurt) and then we put a bandaid on it to help it heal faster. Letting my kiddo explore those feelings of empathy was well worth the 5 minutes it took.
- Discussing. If you don’t talk about what happens, its sometimes hard for kids to figure out what it was that just happened. It’s like if no one ever told you and explained to you what a banana was, but you just ate it every once in a while–would you understand what you were eating, that it was a fruit and that it can be prepared in multiple ways? Nope. Learning about their emotions and feelings is the same for little kids. So, when we’re practicing empathy (like with the cat repair job, for example) I like to talk about how we’re feeling bad or sad for the individual that is in need of help, but that we don’t just stand there, we do something about it and help–because it’s the right thing to do and that’s why our bodies tell us to be sad. Then I label that feeling of “wanting to help when someone is in need” as empathy. It’s not always that black and white, but if I can make a little clearer for my kids, they’ll understand it a little more.
- Praising. No one will ever be able to dissuade me from thinking that praise is the best tool for teaching a child that what they’re doing is good and right and to repeat that behavior. I have seen it in action too many times. If you praise and applaud your preschooler for taking action to help someone or “imagine what the other person is feeling” then you are telling them “this is what we do and it’s the best thing”. And when they get the reward feelings, that reinforces it in their brains too. Praise is a powerful tool.
I really do hope these 5 Easy Activities to Foster Empathy in Preschoolers inspires you in your journey to raising a changemaker.
If they have inspired you in any way and you’d like to come back to this as a reminder in the future, be sure to pin this to your favorite parenting board on Pinterest.
And, if you would like to learn more about T-Mobile’s Changemakers Challenge with their partner, Ashokha, please do. It’s a great initiative and they’re changing the world, one child at a time.
Which is what we need, honestly, because, according to the US Department of Labor, 65% of today’s K-12 students will have careers in a job that hasn’t been invented yet.
And that’s why these kids need to be active-minded changemakers, so that they can grow and evolve with the world around them.
And, frankly, that’s why I want to prepare my kiddos with this in mind.
This post is sponsored by T-Mobile.