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DEVELOPING EMPATHY in our children

Develop the Habit of Helping Others

boy washes car to help

1. Frequently use the word “help” with your children.
Look for opportunities to make your child feel valued for helping you or someone else, even in small ways. Reinforce the deed your child does by building his or her self-esteem and making helping into a habit.

2. Encourage your children to describe how he or she helped someone else.
Ask your child to draw a picture of himself or herself doing something to help another person.
Then have your child describe the story in the picture that they drew.

3. Teach your child to have the courage to give.
Explain to your child that sometimes you have to do the things you’re afraid of in order to help others. As long as it is safe, it is important not to focus on one’s fears but rather on the task of helping another person.

4. Help someone less fortunate than yourself.
Children who volunteer to help kids in need show other kids that they have the capacity to make other people’s lives better, which means maybe their lives can get better, too. 

5. Develop a plan of action for helping.
Children can get very overwhelmed by sad or frightening events that happen in their lives or elsewhere in the world. After your child realizes that he or she is not in any danger, explain ways that your family can help and develop a plan of action for helping.

6. Save small change to make a donation.
Empower your child to save some small change or items to donate to a good cause. This helps to assure the child that if he or she were ever in danger or helpless in any way, help would be available. It also demonstrates to your child how donations really do make a difference.

7. Think small about parallel projects that your kids can handle.
Bake cookies on September 11 for local firefighters. Deliver the cookies with a note from your child that says, “Thank you for your willingness to keep us safe.” Explain to your child how firefighters help others both in big and small ways.

8. Label your child’s feelings.
Discuss feelings with your child and label different feelings that your child has. This will enable your child to recognize empathy quicker and respond faster to others in an empathetic way.

9. Be a real model rather than a role model for your child.
Show your child what you can do for a person who you are feeling empathy for. Engage your child, if possible, in participating in the action of helping or the act of kindness.

10. Provide opportunities for your child to practice empathy.
Bring the action of helping others into your child’s life by intentionally looking for situations in which your child can lend a helping hand. Make it a daily practice and soon it will become a life long habit!

You don’t need to form a non-profit corporation in order to give your children an outlet for channeling their thoughts and concerns. You don’t have to raise a million dollars and you don’t have to get on Oprah. All it takes is one committed adult and one child who is receptive to learning!

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The sole member of The Ocho Project, LLC is Stepp'n Up Shoes for Kids, Inc., a Florida not for profit corporation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.