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Self-confidence and communication skills are deeply intertwined. Without one, it is difficult to be successful with the other. Emotional intelligence helps us navigate all sorts of relationship issues more successfully.
Daily experiences provide opportunities to help your child see other people’s point of views and grow in empathy. You can do this by asking your kids questions like: “How do you think that made him feel?” “How would you have handled a situation like that?”
Whether you are out driving around, at the shopping mall, watching a TV show together or your child is telling you about a problem at school, flip situations on their heads to play a friendly devil’s advocate and encourage critical thinking.
Frankie: “Mom, the new kid at school is so weird. He wears the same shirt almost every day. He told me that I’m no good at basketball. He wasn’t even playing with us.”
Mom: “Did that hurt your feelings?”
Frankie: “Yeah, kinda.
Mom: “I bet. Why do you think he said that?”
Frankie: “It was cause I missed a shot.”
Mom: “Well, I know that wasn’t a very nice thing to say, but maybe he is just trying to fit in with you guys? It’s hard being the new kid. I remember when I was the new kid at school.”
Frankie: “What happened?”
Mom: “I had a hard time making friends because I was shy. Then, this really nice girl in my class asked me if I wanted to sit with her and her friends at lunch. After that, things got easier. Maybe you could ask him if he wants to shoot hoops with you guys next time you play.”
Frankie: “Yeah, maybe. It doesn’t seem like he has any friends.”
Share stories rather lecturing. Teach them to question the status quo and to think critically about why others act the way they do. (Sometimes there really is no explanation, but mostly people mean well.) Your kids will learn to tune into their intuition; fall back on their value system; and assess information and diverse situations critically–and with empathy.
What do you do to nurture empathy?
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