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Teaching Your Children Empathy: 15 Resources for Parents and Guardians


(Photo Drew Scrimsher/Stocksy)

The 2016 presidential election made one thing clear: Empathy is sorely lacking in our society. Empathy, like racism, sexism, prejudice and bigotry, is learned at home. Here is a short list of ways you can teach your child to love, respect and value those who do not look or act like her

1. Go beyond a play date. It’s easy to look inclusive when meeting at a neutral location but actually take an interest in your child’s ethnically or religiously diverse classmates. Hang out at their home or in their neighborhood and see how they live. More from Urban Moms NYC

2. Be a good sport. Talk with your children about what a good sportsman looks like. More from

3. Go help someone. The holiday season is around the corner. Invite a neighbor or classmate over for dinner. Deliver meals to boys and girls clubs, senior living facilities, then stay and engage with themShow your kids how to shine their light on others. More from Volunteer Match.

4. Failure is your friend. It builds character, teaches humility and resilience. Encourage your child to make mistakes. More from Business Insider

5. Be brave. Talk with your kids about how much courage and heart it took a disabled or overweight kid to try out for the basketball team or cheerleading squad. Would you be that brave? More from

6. The limelight isn’t everything. Overcoming narcissism starts in childhood. More from

7. Mean girls have gone viral. Let’s stop them in their tracks. More from iMom

8. Use your voice. Empower your children to speak out against negative treatment of a classmate or a stranger. More from

9. Empathy requires action. More from Prevent Bullying

10. Teach kids how to be resilient. Studies suggest that kids are more likely to develop a strong sense of empathy when their own emotional needs are being met at home (Barnett 1987). 

11. Forgive. It’s The Heart of the Matter. More from

12. Random acts of kindness are contagious. Our children mirror our behavior and will become kind citizens of the world if we are. More from Baby Center

13. Unplug from the screenElectronics are useful but deny children opportunities to emotionally engage with others. More from CNN

14. Be slow to judge. More from Harvard

15. Teach tolerance. More from Teach for Change

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Nefertiti Austin

Nefertiti Austin blogs about adoption at, and is looking for an agent for her memoir about adopting as a single Black woman. Austin lives with her children in Los Angeles. You can find her on Twitter at @NefertitiAustin.

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