Raising Empathy Toolkit
2. EMOTIONAL LITERACEY
"Emotional literacy is a broad concept which includes: understanding, expressing, and managing emotions. Being emotionally literate requires that you know what emotions you and others have, how strong they are, what causes them and taking responsibility for how your emotions affect others"-Alberta Health Services
Why is this important for my child?
As humans we feel. We are full of emotions and in varying degrees throughout the day-happy, sad, anger, jealous, frustrated, excited....the list can go on.
All these feelings are normal and it is important that our children grow up knowing that they are not only normal but that they will be supported through these waves of feelings. From the day our children are born, they are learning to regulate and be in control of their emotions, but this is a process, as all caregivers know. Like learning to tie a shoe, read, or write, we need to give our children the tools to help them on their journey in regulating their EMOTIONS. But, like all good things, this takes time, patience, and connection.
Supporting our kids in their ability to name & to understand their emotions is vital to growing empathy: take the time to name, validate, explain, & support ALL the emotions a child has throughout their day. Accepting their emotions will help them to begin to understand and accept another's emotions.
Treat our own kids
with empathy & support their ability to emotionally regulate.
Be a role model and treat other's with empathy.
Create opportunities to increase understanding and to practice empathy.
The role of the parent child relationship:
When we empathize with our children we help them to emotionally regulate, we support healthy brain development, AND we model empathy.
The role of a secure attachment between child and caregiver is stress regulation.
Seek to understand, support, and empathize with our children's feelings and experiences from THEIR perspective.
Help our kids to understand and regulate their emotions by naming and validating their emotions.
OUR FAVOURITE BOOKS
DAY TO DAY:
Take the time to say hello to people, especially those that appear to be different then you. This will help alleviate any fear of "different" for our kids, who are experts at reading our non verbal language & recognize the kinds of people we do & do not interact with, so be intentional.
Prior to volunteering, discuss the organization & the people they serve.
Relate the needs of the people to your OWN needs to make it relatable. ie: we all need food & housing, we all need money to pay for food & housing, not everyone has the same amount of money to pay for food & housing.
USING BOOKS AS A TOOL:
While reading together, ask your child questions about the characters:
how do you think the character feels? What does their facial expression/ body language tell you about how they are feeling? Why do you think they feel that way? How would that feel to you? How do you think you would respond?
Intentionally choose books with a specific topic in mind, as my kids will generally reach for the books on unicorns + Star Wars so finding a specific book on an issue & TIME for this is key.