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Kindness & Empathy

A quick review of today's news headlines is all it takes to impress upon us how important empathy is. Empathetic people do not pick on, tease, or bully each other. People who have empathy and understanding for others would not kill them or steal from them or otherwise injure and hurt them. Developing an understanding of how other people feel, and how we should treat one another, is a skill that can be learned and needs to be taught quite directly, especially if someone spends a lot of time in the mainstream media culture that promotes and encourages violence and other mean behaviors. Many studies have been done about the link between unkind behaviors when young (such as being mean to animals or younger children) and how that often leads to increasingly mean or antisociable behavior as older teens and adults. It is never ever too young to begin teaching about empathy and kindness.

For example, you might not think of a mud puddle as a great time or place to teach kindness and empathy, but it is a great time to explain how your child's stomping and splashing might affect another person who is nearby. Children can still have fun, of course, but at the same time, it's important to teach the idea of noticing how your behavior affects someone else, and perhaps ask them about moving further away first, or wait until they have walked past, or various other options that all start from the same basic idea - thinking of others.

Likewise, gentle treatment of anyone who is vulnerable, such as small animals, younger children, babies or elderly people are all important times to learn about kindness and empathy. And for older children, the classic game of Gossip is the perfect place to start a lesson on how language can be a hurtful tool when misused.

Top five FUN ways to learn Kindness & Empathy
Catch Bugs
Chase Lizards
Play Gossip
Mud & Puddles
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