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Raising Empathetic Children

Empathy, or the ability to consider others’ perspectives, feelings, experiences and needs, is essential for all parents to foster in their children. Every child has the power to empathize, and by making empathy a priority, you can help your child to genuinely engrain it in their way of thinking.


Encouraging Thoughtfulness

There are many ways to teach your child that empathy is like a superpower — it makes the lives of those around us better. One small gesture can improve someone’s day, but when thoughtfulness is a consistent value in everyday life, it becomes a force for greater change.

Effective ways to introduce your child to the importance of empathy include:

  • Modeling kind behaviors like active listening, volunteering and respecting differences
  • Providing opportunities to build an understanding of others by learning about diverse cultures, identities and experiences
  • Asking questions that encourage kids to share their own needs and feelings while considering how they may differ from someone else
  • Sharing impactful children’s books that explore empathy

Over time, thinking of the needs and feelings of others should become second nature and will be applied throughout their lives.


Putting Empathy into Practice

Our National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductees know firsthand that it is vital to consider the needs of others when creating useful inventions that can change lives. In fact, empathy has been key in the development of many world-changing inventions, from a water disinfecting device created by NIHF Inductee Ashok Gadgil to the laserphaco cataract surgery invented by NIHF Inductee Patricia Bath.

As your child grows their own understanding of the importance of caring for others, you can encourage them to put on their kindness caps and try an empathy-building STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activity! “The Invention Superpower of Empathy will remind kids that they, too, can make a difference by considering the specific needs of others and creating solutions to help them. The realization that they can impact the world around them will lead your child to become more confident and capable of problem solving in the face of challenges.

Don’t let the learning end there! Continue to think of other ways to model a caring attitude and considerate lifestyle for the children in your life. Whether it be helping at a local organization or inviting the new kid over to play, we can all find new opportunities to spread kindness. They do say “practice makes perfect,” after all!


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For more tips on how you can use STEM exploration to build social-emotional learning (SEL) skills at home, we invite you to check out our blog.

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