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Why 21 Days of Empathy?

We all tend to have our views on everything in life. Because they are our views, we think they are right. This creates a filter bubble and we view the world from inside our own particular bubbles. More and more, we live in bubbles. Most of us are surrounded by people who look like us, vote like us, earn like us, spend money like us, have educations like us and worship like us. The result is an empathy deficit, and it’s at the root of many of our biggest problems.

Empathy is listening, feeling and falling into the situation. It is accepting the counter-view. Not denying, judging, or rejecting it. We all have reasons for believing the things we believe; accepting that someone else’s views could be as valid as our own can lead to greater understanding of each other.
Academic knowledge is important to being able to function in the world, but it’s only a part of our development. Teaching empathy to young children will lead to greater emotional intelligence as they grow. Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.

Here are some links to short videos to help understand how empathy works. Watch them with your children, and ask them for examples of their friends feeling happy, sad, angry, surprised or confused. Help them to work out how they can show empathy. (There are some nice tips for us as adults too!)

Always remember that children will model their behaviour by observing what people around them do, especially their parents and caregivers. So practising empathy yourself will also teach your child how to be empathetic. Moving out of our “safe” little bubbles, seeing and understanding how others think and feel, will open our world to new experiences and greater understanding. As a bonus – you will make new friends too!
Here is a wonderful article on teaching young children about empathy. It’s well worth spending some time reading this. The article also includes links which will give you more ideas on how to incorporate teaching empathy in everyday life.

It’s Never Too Early to Teach Our Kids Empathy
This article includes lots of activities, some of which you can use during our “Free to be Me Week”.
Setting our children up for a successful life takes all of us:
Parents and caregivers

“Bit by bit, experience by experience, our children’s empathy can grow stronger and more refined–what a gift to them and the world. Imagine the impact if we all do that together!” Meghan Fitzgerald 

Warm regards,

Your Summerhill Team