How to Teach Kids Empathy Skills in the Classroom

As school counselors, we know how important it is to teach our students empathy skills. A lack of empathy can lead to bullying and other negative behaviors, which can be damaging to a student’s self-esteem and sense of security. Fortunately, there are several things we can do in the classroom to help our students develop empathy skills. Here are five tips to teach kids empathy skills at school.

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Want to Teach Kids Empathy Skills? Read more to find 5 tips for encouraging empathy skill building in the classroom

Teach Kids Empathy Skills: 5 Ways to Encourage Empathy in the Classroom


1) Model Empathetic Behaviors

As educators, it is important that we lead by example and model empathetic behaviors for our students. We should strive to show them what an empathetic person looks like by treating others with kindness and understanding, and showing them that we care about their feelings and experiences. This will help our students understand what it means to be empathetic and how they can use this skill in their own lives. We can

  • Reflect feelings
  • Ask curious questions
  • Ask students about needs

2) Talk About Feelings

One way to foster empathy in the classroom is by talking about feelings with our students. We should encourage them to express their emotions openly, without judgment or criticism from us or their peers. By normalizing conversations about feelings, we will help our students better understand why they feel the way they do and how they can respond appropriately when faced with emotional situations.

Get tons of feelings activities here

3) Encourage Positive Interactions

We can create a more empathetic classroom environment by encouraging positive interactions between our students. We should emphasize the importance of helping one another out when needed, listening carefully when someone is speaking, and being respectful during disagreements or conflicts. Through these positive interactions, our students will learn how to empathize with one another and create an atmosphere of mutual respect in the classroom.

4) Use Role-Playing Exercises

Role-playing exercises are a great way for kids to practice empathy in a safe environment. For example, we could have two students role-play a scenario where one student has hurt the other’s feelings through words or actions, then have the offending student explain why his/her behavior was wrong before discussing how he/she could make amends for their mistake. By engaging in these types of activities regularly, our students will become more aware of how their actions affect those around them and learn how they can be more mindful of other people’s feelings going forward.

5) Have Students Reflect on Their Actions

Finally, having our students reflect on their actions is another important part of fostering empathy in the classroom setting. After each activity or lesson related to empathy skills, we should give our students time for reflection so that they can think about what went well during the activity as well as areas where they need improvement on being more understanding towards others’ perspectives and points of view. This type of reflection will help reinforce the importance of being an empathetic person both inside and outside the classroom setting.

Teaching kids empathy skills at school is essential for creating a positive learning environment where all members feel respected and heard. With these five tips—modeling empathetic behaviors, talking about feelings, encouraging positive interactions between classmates, using role-playing exercises as tools for practice, and having students reflect on their actions—we can make sure that our classrooms are places where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves while also learning valuable life lessons along the way!

Teach Kids Empathy Skills: Keep Learning with These Resources

Keep Reading:

Empathy and STEM in Counseling

STEMpathy Boxes for Counseling

Empathy Lesson I Taught in 3rd Grade

Want to Teach Kids Empathy Skills? Read more to find 5 tips for encouraging empathy skill building in the classroom. These activities are great for school counseling classroom lessons, small group counseling lessons, and individual counseling sessions.

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