Eanes ISD

SEL Focus: Cultivating Empathy

Third Nine-Weeks Focus: Social-Awareness/Empathy

Empathy is a skill that can be taught, developed, and strengthened like a muscle. It is the ability to feel with and through another person creating an understanding that each person is a unique individual, and not a stereotype of race, gender, class, etc. Jamil Zaki, Stanford Professor, says “Empathy at a deep level is the understanding that someone else’s world is just as real as yours.” According to Daniel Goleman, empathy is part of our emotional intelligence and increasing children’s emotional intelligence supports behavioral and academic improvement. Our SEL focus for this nine weeks is social awareness/empathy.

The Making Caring Common project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education has the goal of teaching children to learn to care about others. They have provided “5 Tips for Cultivating Empathy” that families can use to support their children in learning to be empathetic. 

Modeling empathy through the treatment of your child and others teaches empathy. Children learn from watching the adults around them and from experiencing the empathy given to them. There are many ways we can show our children we are being empathetic. One way is to be aware of their physical and emotional needs. Other ways are respecting and accepting them for who they are, taking a genuine interest in their activities and actively listening when they are speaking. 

Our children watch how we treat the people around us. Children notice when we are engaging in a community service or contributing to the greater community. Some ways to model empathy to your children are welcoming the new family in the neighborhood or treating the people at the car wash with dignity and care. Modeling empathy with others, teaches our children to learn empathy. 

Teaching our children to be socially-aware, will not only help them learn to be empathetic but also help them learn to be happy contributing members of our community. 

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