How to Teach Perspective-Taking and Empathy to a Child

Perspective-taking describes the ability to see things from another's point of view and it's an important skill to teach children early on.

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 MakingThe 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.

Photo credit: luminaimages / Shutterstock

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