Empathy is a crucial aspect in social emotional development. The definition of the empathy, according to psychologist Feshbach, a professor at University of California, Los Angeles, is the ability to understand and share cognitive and emotional state of others.
There are prominent benefits for teaching our little ones to be empathetic.
First, empathy is the building block for prosocial traits such as kindness, and generosity. People with high affect empathy (who share the emotional state of others) are inclined to show compassion for others’ situations. Thus they are more generous in offering help when others need it, as well as disposed to take into consideration each other’s sentiment.
Second, empathetic children are less likely to become bullies both physically and psychologically. As people with advanced empathetic functions sympathize with others’ feelings, they engage less in provocative and manipulative behaviors.
Third, people with high empathy are more socially competent, and are more likely to achieve work success. As empathetic people understand other’s thoughts as well as feelings, and tend to be able to take another’s perspective, they are usually good at communicating and persuading, and thus more likely to develop strong relations with others in both personal life and work.
Also, research shows that age 4 to 7 is the critical period for developing empathy. Therefore, we are encouraging parents and teachers to prioritize their children’s empathy development. Here, we would like to recommend some shows and games for children to engage in empathy learning.
1.Sesame Street Series
Sesame Street has devoted in developing socially competent children for over 40 years. There are several high-quality online short clips that parents/educators can watch together with their children. They can ask feedback questions about the characters’ feelings, and prompt their children to take the characters’ perspectives through watching the show. We would like to recommend some of these high-quality video clips for both you and your children to enjoy: Emotions in the Park, Empathy, Include, and Natalie Portman And Elmo Are Princess & Elephant.
Animal Role Play is an excellent activity for children to practice empathetic concern. Most children like animals, and they will surely be happy to imagine being their favorite animals. By acting the part of the animal they like, children are able to practice perspective taking, which is a significant element of empathy.
3. Problem Solving Puppet Shows
Most children love puppet shows, and they also like to hear their suggestions being adopted. The problemsolving puppet show is a perfect game for children to participate in. Parents and educators can come up with a scenario where one of the characters in the show is facing trouble, and they can ask children to pretend to be the other character in the show and brainstorm some solutions to the situation.
Also, check out this article, How to Help Your Children Develop Empathy for extra strategies to boost young children’s empathy.
Finally, Woobo, as a smart toy, pays special attention to children in social emotional well-being. Woobo loves to talk about emotions with kids: Woobo encourages children to understand and respect others’ emotions through chatting and storytelling. In addition, Woobo invites children to discuss their own emotions and thoughts. Woobo team aims to build a bond between Woobo and children, which would ultimately benefit children’s empathy development.
Susana Zhang, our Content/Marketing Specialist here at Woobo authored this post. Susana’s background is in psychology, previously earning her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and more recently earning her Master’s degree in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education in Human Development and Psychology. She is also actively working with our software and hardware team to help build out Woobo’s natural language processing technology.
Feshbach, N. D. (1975). Empathy in children: Some theoretical and empirical considerations. The Counseling Psychologist.
Weiner, B. (1985). An attributional theory of achievement motivation and emotion. Psychological review, 92(4), 548.