Activities to Develop Empathy in Children

It's fundamental to develop empathy in children for their future success, so it's key to put some activities into practice. Learn more.
Activities to Develop Empathy in Children
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 11 May, 2023

When we talk about empathy, we’re referring to having the ability to identify with someone and perceive what they feel. Sharing emotions is an ability that some people have innately, but others must work on it since childhood in order to have good development. Therefore, we want to explain some activities to develop empathy in children.

What is empathy?

Childhood is the ideal time to work on empathy. It’s the way for children to begin to understand the importance of putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. This will allow them to be successful in their adult life, to be good leaders, and to know how to resolve conflicts in a respectful way with themselves and with others.

Cultivating empathy from the time they’re young is very important. Parents should know enough strategies and activities to teach the little ones. This way, they can relate better through good communication skills and can also develop assertiveness. All this will allow the child to better manage life situations and understand what’s happening in the environment, which is essential to living in society.

Emotional intelligence is just as relevant as cognitive intelligence. Social interactions are part of life and, therefore, understanding and comprehending other people’s emotions is so important.

An older sister hugging her little brother.
Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes is key to personal growth. In this regard, empathy allows us to develop resilience and improves self-esteem in any person.

Write down these activities to develop empathy in children

Play is the best way for children to learn, so don’t miss these activities to carry out with the little ones.


Representing emotions through gestures and trying to guess them is a good way to learn and have a fun time as a family. You can also make up little stories.

Touching emotions

It’s clear that emotions can’t be touched, but they can be felt. But, in this game, the child must cover their eyes, touch the face of a partner and, by touching, determine what emotion their partner is representing through their facial expressions.

Talking about feelings

It’s important to educate children so that they know how to understand their own feelings. In that way, they’ll also be able to better understand those of others. All emotions are necessary, so it’s important to recognize them by naming them accordingly. In addition, we must understand how they make us feel and what they mean.

Making emotion cards

If talking about your own emotions is a bit complicated, you can make a game of emotion cards. This is a practical resource for children to explain in a simpler way how they feel at any given moment.

A mother reading a book to her small children.
Reading stories is a good initiative for children to better understand emotions and develop empathy through stories and characters.

Reading stories about emotions

Reading stories about emotions can also be a good way to work on empathy in children. Stories help little ones to awaken their imagination and also to identify with the characters and their emotions. In this way, they can also explore their inner emotions.

Playing with dolls

Playing with dolls is also a way to teach social skills and empathy to children. That way, by watching them play, you can discover many feelings and emotions of those of little ones. Take advantage of these moments to teach them about empathy.

The importance of teaching empathy to children

As parents, it’s essential to teach children to be empathetic. To do so, you can take into account these activities so that children can understand the emotions of others. Empathy develops little by little, and it’s from the age of 10 when children are already able to understand the feelings of others.

For the development of empathy to occur, it’s important to offer children the right values, as well as the right resources. In this regard, it’s best to start with good communication in the family and give importance to emotions through calm interactions. Therefore, we must work on conflicts through emotional education and promote emotional intelligence through communication.

Of course, although all these activities are important, there’s one thing that’s even more important: Leading by example. Listen to your child and show availability and interest whenever they need to tell you something or show their emotions.

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.

  • Bilbao, A. (2015) El cerebro del niño explicado a los padres. Editorial: Plataforma Actual

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