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Teaching children empathy

PW invited parents of Garodia International Centre for Learning Mumbai (GICLM) to share their insights on how to teach their children empathetic behaviour

Parents Corner“We believe youngest children are capable of exhibiting empathy which can be fostered, encouraged and cultivated by adults. As parents we have made an effort to be good role models for our 11-year-old daughter Souumya (class VI) by acknowledging and valuing her feelings, and expressing sympathy when she is sad, upset, distressed or frustrated after a long day at school. Lately we have begun sharing our own workplace challenges. Unsurprisingly Souumya offers her emotional support, which is a mature gesture. I have also noticed how Souumya empathises with less fortunate children whom she spots on her way to school,” — Kashmira Kothari, director, Excella Electronics

“I believe charity begins at home. Spending time with children to sensitise them towards the way other people feel, think and behave through ‘reality checks’ is of utmost importance and critical for their all-round development. Role modelling our behaviour and emotional understanding of friends, family and domestic house helpers has been the most basic lesson which has worked wonders with our 15-year-old son Hardik (class IX). Community service initiatives of his school have also shaped him to demonstrate empathetic behaviour.” — Swapneel Nagarkar, sr. vice president and business head, Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd

empathy“We strive hard to practice empathy at home to help our children turn these lessons into lifelong habits. We understand and value empathy as the most beautiful gift that sets us apart from other species. Therefore we take keen interest in things that matter to our five-year-old daughter Ryna and nine-year-old son Ryan (studying in another school) with grace and courtesy and respond to their emotions in a positive, loving and caring manner. We believe children feel secure and happy when their emotional needs are fulfilled, and they learn how to meet the emotional needs of others in society.” — Neepa Gaurav Raveshia, homemaker

children with empathy“I believe humans are naturally wired to be empathetic. To arouse their empathy some observation and emulation is necessary. My 13-year-old son Dev Ashutosh (class VIII) has learnt to show empathy by observing our actions and reactions with friends, family, acquaintances, clients and others in our daily lives. Narrating real-life stories of exemplary people to him, volunteering with the family in social work activities and teaching him to reflect on his own feelings have also helped.” — Dr Amita Shah, consultant psychiatrist, Dr H D Gandhi Memorial Hospital for Mental Health Care

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