A quick guide to teaching empathy in classrooms

Empathy is when we respond by first understanding somebody else’s emotions, and thoughts. It is a skill of understanding the pain, happiness, love, and all kinds of emotion of the other person.

Teaching empathy in school has the potential to make students better performers, and achievers, and help them to become better leaders for the world beyond the classroom. An essential skill of leadership is empathy. Leaders must be able to empathize with their team or group in order to ensure they feel valued.


Here are five guidelines for cultivating empathy in children, in classrooms:

1.Help kids develop a sense of moral identity

 It’s more important to help kids develop a moral identity than simply praising them for good deeds. This means that children should be able to form a view of self, an identity- that guides them in everyday behaviours towards others. 

The best way for kids to respond empathetically is to see themselves as caring individuals who value the thoughts and feelings of others. Hence, the ‘messages’ that they receive about themselves have a significant impact on how they view themselves.


 2. Give kids “do-overs”

When kids act or speak inappropriately, it is beneficial to let them have a second chance rather than punishing them. 

Follow these four steps to help kids respond more empathetically: 

1) Call attention to uncaring behaviour

2) Educate kids about how their actions affect others

3) Help children repair the hurt and make amends 

4) Stress and be clear about your expectations for caring behaviour in the future.


 3. Encourage empathy through stories

Encourage kids to build empathy by play-acting, reading books that put them inside the heads of characters, and watching inspiring movies. Learning skills that need moral action are built through activities that allow careful reflection on how others feel in a given situation.

If a child is paired with the right book, it can open a child’s heart to humanity better than any lesson or lecture ever could.


 4. Examine your values

 A part of the problem is an overly competitive culture. Children are encouraged to succeed academically instead of being encouraged to be kind, better people.

It does not matter how much adults say they value kindness and compassion, if they only praise achievement, they do not convey the right message to children.

In order to raise a generation of kindhearted, caring individuals, we need to make our expectations clear to the children. At the same time, they are more likely to act as ‘caring’ individuals on the basis of what they observe people in their environment do. Hence, your values as well as your behaviours matter. 

Here are some examples of behaviours that teachers or any caregiver needs to adopt:

Nurtiring empathy- Top tips for parents, teachers and caregivers.


 5. Be mindful of social media use

In the age of social media, students can forgo face-to-face encounters where empathy is born. Teachers and parents alike should pay close attention to the amount of time kids spend online and ensure that time is balanced with more in-person conversations.

It is essential to make children understand how others feel. Parents and teachers are keen on introducing diversity to children at a young age, so we have developed an educator’s tool kit that assists schools and teachers in teaching children the value of diversity and inclusion. A great tool to begin building a world where being different is OK and nobody is odd-one-out!  Explore the Kit 

About Ginny’s Planet:

Ginny’s Planet is a social enterprise Co-founded by Dr. Shweta Verma in 2019. The brand runs on the core value of helping our teachers and parents to teach their children to become independent, smart and better leaders by equipping them with a deep understanding of empathy, diversity, disability and inclusion. Dr. Shweta and team work on building events, workshops and products to help guardians to trigger kids’ mindsets and develop the flexibility to situations. They work with schools to organise workshops for children. 


1 Comment

  1. Pallavi Aggarwal

    This resonates so well with me. Specially the part about giving children do overs. I am going to try this with my daughter. At times we do get upset with her over her when she hurts others. But i think this approach will work well for us. The part about assisting children to develop a moral identity is also great and will need some working on. Thank you for these quick tips and suggestions which would be helpful to us parents as well.



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