Your children learn so much by picking up on the things you do. They are influenced by your every word, sometimes when you don’t know they’re listening. Your kids are always watching. They look up to you and want to do the things you’re doing.

This isn’t always good. Sometimes you don’t realize your children noticing your bad behavior. This is why you have to be careful what you do or say whenever your children are around.

You probably understand this. Most parents do. And though you might slip up from time to time, you’re usually pretty good about setting the right example. “Do what I do” is always a better teacher than telling your children to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself.

If you want to teach your children healthy empathy for others, you need to lead by example.

By the way, is empathy important for your kids? What are the benefits of being an empathetic person? We’ll answer those questions and then give you a couple of tips to help you teach your children empathy.

The Benefits of Empathy for Children

Empathy is important for a child’s development. When he can empathize with the feelings of others, he understands that he’s an individual person. He sees what someone else is experiencing and though he understands those feelings through empathy, he recognizes he isn’t going through the experience himself.

Imagining how someone else is feeling in a particular situation can teach your children many different emotions people experience. Another reason empathy is important for kids is because it makes them selfless. You can teach your son that inviting a child to play when he sees they need comfort is a wonderful thing.

Studies show that expressing empathy leads to less stress and depression. It can help your child better cope with his own feelings when he reaches out to someone else in need.

3 Simple Exercises for Teaching Your Children Empathy

You can’t teach this emotional skill too early. The more you display empathy yourself, the more likely your child is to be an empathetic person. Here are a few simple exercises to help your child understand what someone else is going through emotionally.

1 – Ask lots of questions. Talk about your child’s feelings and the feelings of others. Explain that everyone doesn’t respond to a situation or event the same way. Then ask what a good response would be if she sees another child that feels sad.

2 – Practice what you preach. Empathize with your child. Look for opportunities to respond with care and kindness when your child has a less than positive experience.

3 – Make suggestions. You could say, “Why don’t you let your friend choose one of your toys to play with since she doesn’t have any of her own?”

Becoming empathetic teaches your children a lot. They learn that they are their own person, an individual. At the same time, they discover there are times when being selfless and sympathizing with another person is the right response. The best way to teach children anything is to lead by example, so look for opportunities to practice more empathy yourself.