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Kindness Counts: Teaching Empathy (page 2)

Kindness Counts: Teaching Empathy

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Updated on Jan 26, 2009

What You Need:

  • A tree branch or large-circumference wooden dowel (or, if your children are younger and could injure themselves with these items, simply use an empty paper towel roll)
  • Markers, paints, findings (beads, ribbon, feathers, etc.)
  • Glue

What You Do:

Help your child to decorate the tree branch, dowel or paper towel roll with markers, paints, findings, etc. If you have more than one child, even decorating the talking stick can be a lesson in empathetic communication as you encourage your children to take turns and collaborate on designs. At the next sign of a disagreement, or if an important family decision needs to be made that involves input from all members, break out the talking stick and see how much it improves your children’s ability to listen to each other and treat others’ opinions as important. When children feel that their own views are valuable, they are more likely to be considerate of others’ views.

Opportunities abound for showing kids that kindness counts. Look for the teaching moment in everyday activities, like going to the playground or picking up toys. Children learn by mimicking adult behaviors; the surest way to teach empathy is to model it yourself.

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