5 ways to take your child on a sharing adventure!
When it comes to teaching your child how to share, it’s not enough to just tell them why they should do it. You have to walk the talk – and sometimes get creative and play! When sharing is a fun adventure, learning empathy becomes easy.
Values are the bedrock of a community. No matter how academically competent or skillful its members are, it is only when individuals understand the importance of empathy – knowing how to share and care for others – that a community is able to thrive. Regardless of what field your children decide to enter in the future, sincerely understanding and caring for people around them is an indispensable skill. Besides, which parent doesn’t want their children to live in a world where people treat one another with respect and love?
Teaching children how to share and care can be a challenge, but with fun, teaching empathy activities in your parenting arsenal, it can be an adventure for everyone! And instead of serious lectures, opt for interactive methods that make lessons much more memorable and effective.
Fasten your seatbelts! Here are five fun ways to teach empathy:
Giving your child the responsibility of caring for a pet is probably the most hands-on lesson on caring. Taking care of a pet will challenge your child to understand and provide it with what it needs. It will also teach them the importance of placing the needs of someone else above their own.
Start them off with an “easier” pet like a fish. And if they prove to be capable of taking care of more, you can start a conversation about adopting a cat or a dog from a shelter. Even if you don’t eventually end up getting a pet, the process of talking about caring for something other than themselves will prove to be a valuable lesson in learning empathy.
There are many games and apps that teach empathic behaviours and skills. “Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings” app helps children identify different emotions. Meanwhile “Sharing with Duckie Deck” teaches different ways of sharing such as taking turns and dividing portions.
Some of our favourites come from the SharityTM Club, an initiative part of MOE’s Character and Citizenship Education, which regularly provides contests and games to encourage children to share and care.
For example, learning sign language is one way to practice inclusivity and encourage empathy. One SharityTM Club activity sheet challenges children to master the sign language alphabet so that they can decode a phrase – and maybe one day, engage differently-abled people in a simple conversation. Learning to communicate through sign language will be an experience they will remember throughout their lives.
Given the amount of time children spend in front of a screen, why not engage them through animated videos that teach important lessons about empathy?
Children will learn by seeing how the characters care for others. They’ll also be able to identify and correct hurtful behaviours.
Parents, meanwhile, can use the lesson plans included with the videos to help children internalise how the characters behaved in each episode. Then they can apply the lesson to their everyday lives.
Kids love learning through flash cards. And they’re not limited to maths or vocabulary. You can also use cards to teach the language of sharing.
Different ways of caring and sharing are easier to identify and discuss using the A-Z Caring and Sharing alphabet series, available for download on the SharityTM website. Big words such as Respect and Forgiveness are illustrated, making it easier for children to understand and practice them in real life. Using the letters of the alphabet also helps in remembering and reviewing each term.
Knowing the terms yourself will also help you whenever you encounter situations that require an empathetic response. Role modelling is still one of the most effective ways of teaching behaviour because children naturally imitate what they see. Demonstrating empathy in a real-life situation yourself will always be a more powerful teaching tool than activities and lesson plans.
You can befriend SharityTM on social media to receive regular updates on upcoming community events or fun activities so that you and your family can be involved in building a more caring and inclusive Singapore. You can also visit the Community Chest website where you can find inspiring stories, teaching empathy activities, and more ideas on volunteering and donating to good causes.
Practicing empathy is rewarding in itself so your child will naturally feel great about doing it. With just a bit of help to get started, caring and sharing can become a fun lifelong adventure!