Make children think things like:”How would that make you feel?” It is one of the most powerful habits we can instill in our children. You can not be a compassionate person unless you have an active imagination, you have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Simulation game is a great way for young children to practice empathy. You could tell your son, “Your wrist fell and hit his head! What do you think we should do for her? As your kids grow up, you can ask them to imagine more complicated real-life scenarios as you find them.
Differences should be pointed out to children without judging them so that they can form their own opinions. You can offer all sorts of similar opportunities to reflect: “Imagine being a kitten who was trapped in a tree and could not go down.” “Imagine how difficult it should be to get on the bus in a wheelchair, and how grateful you would feel for a smart engineer to invent the elevator to make it possible.”
Over time, this kind of thinking becomes automatic, and so does a child’s response. When you see a child who forgot his lunch, he knows he’s hungry and offer him to share yours. Reading a book together is another easy way to connect with your child and experience someone else’s life that could be very different from yours.
When we read, we imagine with our heart and soul and not just with our brain. The characters in a book often share their feelings in an even deeper way than they would if they were sitting in front of you. That is why it is important for parents to inspire their children’s imagination so that empathy is strengthened.