How to Teach Perspective-Taking and Empathy to a Child
Gail Innis of Michigan State University Extension has a nice piece up right now about perspective-taking, also known as the ability “to see things from another’s point of view.” Innis draws heavily from the book Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills that Every Child Needs authored by Families and Work Institute President (and Big Think expert) Ellen Galinsky. Perspective-taking is one of her essential skills because alternative points of view allow for the development of compassion and empathy. Innis explains the process:
“Perspective-taking is not an easy skill to master and very young children often don’t understand that others have feelings and experiences different from their own. Perspective-taking develops over time and improves as children mature, as it involves multiple parts of the brain, each responsible for a different task.”
These concepts, says Innis, don’t develop overnight. In the meantime, you can help your child by integrating perspective-taking exercises in everyday play and activities. Incorporate lessons about people who cannot see into games like peek-a-boo and Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Teach your child that there are multiple ways to solve a problem and have them understand that critical thinking can be nonlinear. These are just two examples of acts that can bolster a child’s perspective-taking skills. I encourage you to check out Innis’ full piece linked below for more tips.
Read more at Michigan State University Extension.
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