5 Games to Work on Empathy in Children

Here's a list of games to work on empathy in children so they can have fun while learning values! Keep reading the following article.
5 Games to Work on Empathy in Children

Last update: 17 May, 2022

Games to work on empathy in children are a very valuable resource to support the development of emotional and social intelligence in our children.

“What is empathy? It’s a skill that allows us to understand and share the feelings of others, their way of thinking without judging or having to agree with them.”

-UNICEF-

Below, we’ll present a series of simple playful activities that make common situations visible for children to better understand what being empathetic is all about.

Fun games to play at home or at school to work on empathy

Here, we’ll present several options where children are the protagonists of their learning regarding values. Take note!

1. The ball and the spider web

This is a very fun game and is an ideal tool to introduce yourself to a new group. The dynamic is very easy and all you need is a ball of yarn.

To begin, the children sit in a circle and the person leading the game takes the ball of yarn. First, they introduce themself and tell everyone something they like to do, such as, “My name is Ruby and I love to ride my bike.”

She then takes one end of the yarn and passes the ball of yarn to a child to introduce herself in the same way. This is repeated with the rest of the participants until a web of yarn is formed inside the circle that includes and connects them all.

A child holding emoji signs representing happiness and frustration.
Identifying what different facial gestures represent is a good way to foster emotional intelligence in children.

2. Name that emotion

Thanks to emojis, emoticons are in styles and children love them. Therefore, a great idea is to use emojis to teach them about emotions.

The activity consists of presenting the faces, having the children say what emotion they represent, and each one can say in what daily situation they would have that expression on their face. At the end of the game, each emotion has to be named.

For example, when a smiling face is presented, it brings to mind an afternoon when your mom makes your favorite dessert. In this case, the emotion is joy.

3. In your shoes

This is one of the simplest of all the games to work on empathy, but also one of the most effective. Because it involves a sensory aspect, it allows children to quickly understand what it feels like to “be in your shoes”.

The dynamic is as follows: Children sit in a circle and take off their shoes and then pass them to their partner sitting to their right.

When the child puts on the other child’s shoes, the moderator should ask what color and model of shoes is your favorite? And the child should answer according to what the real owner of the shoes thinks.

With this activity, the children realize that there’s a great diversity of tastes and that all of them are respectable.

4. The tenants, another great game to work on empathy

This game is an ideal exercise to show how a person feels when they’re excluded from a group or activity.

Divide the children into groups of 3 and leave a couple of children without an assigned group. The first two hold hands and form a house, while the third is placed in the middle and plays the tenant.

At the sound of “earthquake!”, the houses are disassembled and must be reassembled with another tenant inside. When this happens, there will always be two people left out for reasons beyond their control, and the debate will be about what those excluded individuals feel or think.

What’s the feeling for little ones when they are excluded from a group? What do these children think when it happens to them? What to do when we witness this situation?

5. The Shipwrecked Island

This team game is perfect for children over 10 years old, as the idea is to get them to agree and that each one collaborates with the skill they’re best at.

Form groups of 4 or 5 children and tell them that they’re on a deserted island where they arrived after a shipwreck. Tell them that they have to find the solution to get out of there all together and give them a list of the materials they have available.

Thanks to this activity, children will be able to see in each other a special ability and understand that we’re all different. However, each aspect that makes us different can be very valuable for the society we all form and share.

Children looking at an old map.
Teamwork allows us to discover that each aspect that makes us different is a virtue that allows us to complement each other.

Why use games to work on empathy in children?

It’s been proven that children learn better and faster when they learn through play activities. Games create relaxed and relaxed environments in which children can more easily express their emotions.

At the same time, the fictitious situations elaborated in a game help children to understand how others may feel under certain circumstances.

Focused on working on empathy, games become a powerful tool to facilitate coexistence, promote inclusion, and abandon prejudices in favor of a full and real inclusion without discrimination of any kind.

In short, as expressed in the UNICEF Guide to Promote Empathy:

Empathy helps to improve social relations and to accept that we’re all different, and that it’s those differences that enrich us.”

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