Why You Should Teach Empathy at Home

Why You Should Teach Empathy at Home

Last update: 23 March, 2018

It’s very important to teach empathy because it’s the foundation for all good relationships. It also leads to a healthier and fuller life.

Empathy is one of the most valuable qualities that human beings can learn. It’s the ability to understand and be sensitive to other people’s feelings and opinions – whether you share them or not – in order to help.

Different types of empathy

In order to act with empathy, we must understand what the other person is experiencing.

You must pay attention and observe the messages you transmit with your words, gestures and emotions. There are three types of empathy:

  • Cognitive empathy is mentally putting yourself in another person’s situation, understanding how they see things and adopting their point of view without judgment.
  • Emotional empathy consists of feeling another person’s emotions.
  • Sympathetic empathy is feeling the concern and need for help from another person and being willing to assist them quickly, spontaneously and unconditionally.
Why You Should Teach Empathy at Home

The importance of teaching empathy at home

Empathy is vital to building excellent interpersonal relationships, and especially to strengthen and nurture family ties.

When problems arise at home, putting yourself in the other person’s place will help solve the conflict. It will allow you to understand their opinion even if you don’t share it.

Empathy is vital to building excellent interpersonal relationships, especially to strengthen and nurture family ties.

7 ways to teach empathy at home

Like all moral values, empathy begins to develop within the home. Parents set the example that children should follow.

To work on empathy at home, it’s important for parents to:

  1. Help children develop healthy self-esteem, so they can put themselves in the place of others without being harmed.
  2. Teach them to be good listeners, which will allow them to know what others think and feel.
  3. Talk about their own feelings and emotions so their children understand that everyone has different feelings.
  4. Encourage and invite reflection on how others might be feeling in certain situations.
  5. Correct a child when he or she makes disparaging remarks about others.
  6. Make children feel they’re right when they show empathy.
  7. Show by example the satisfaction that can be had from listening to or helping someone.
Why You Should Teach Empathy at Home

Practical ways to teach empathy to children

There are many ways to help children develop a capacity for empathy. Some examples include:

  • Making drawings and using masks with little ones to show expressions of joy, sadness, anger and fear.
  • Reading stories and watching cartoons and movies, explaining the different emotions that the characters feel and how they express them.
  • Playing games with different situations so they can guess how others think and feel.
  • Helping them reflect on different situations by asking questions about how they would feel in that situation, what they would do or how another person would feel.

Invaluable benefits of empathy

Although developing empathy is a slow process that takes a lot of time, it’s worth the effort.

  • Empathy helps people maintain deeper relationships.
  • Children learn to share feelings.
  • It allows people to develop the ability to be compassionate when facing painful situations.
  • Empathy promotes more effective communication.
  • It’s more objective and fair, going beyond prejudice to understand others better.
  • It reinforces self-esteem and stimulates learning

Parents should continue to demonstrate empathy with their children by leading by example, as children learn by what they see.

It’s necessary to teach them the importance of understanding the feelings and needs, not only of family members, but also of those outside the family circle.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Fernández-Pinto, I., López-Pérez, B., & Márquez, M. (2008). Empatía: Medidas, teorías y aplicaciones en revisión. Anales de Psicología/Annals of Psychology, 24(2), 284-298. https://revistas.um.es/analesps/article/view/42831
  • Gorostiaga, A., & Balluerka, N. (2014). Evaluación de la empatía en el ámbito educativo y su relación con la inteligencia emocional. Ministerio de Educación.
  • Martorell, C., González, R., Rasal, P., & Estellés, R. (2009). Convivencia e inteligencia emocional en niños en edad escolar. European Journal of Education and Psychology, 2(1), 69-78. https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/1293/129318693004.pdf
  • Richaud, M. C. (2017). Algunos aportes sobre la importancia de la empatía y la prosocialidad en el desarrollo humano. Revista Mexicana de Investigación en Psicología, 6(2), 171-176. https://www.medigraphic.com/cgi-bin/new/resumen.cgi?IDARTICULO=70557

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.