Life Skills: Teaching Courage and Empathy to Children

Teaching character and life skills to students

When we are scared all kinds of things happen to our body and mind.  Our teeth may get clinched, shoulders raised, wobbly voice or a very quiet one.  The look on our face changes and our heart begins to beat in a pattern that we feel it every time.  If we are scared by something startling us it may feel like all the blood is rushing out of our bodies.  Being scared affects everyone a little different, but I am sure you can identify what happens to you.

So when we have a child, what scares them may not seems so scary for us, but this is an opportunity to teach a couple of things.  First recognize the feelings that the child is having and help them to see you empathize with them, without validating that they should be afraid in this situation, unless it is an unsafe situation.  When they see us empathize, later they will be able to use this skill with others.

Then if the situation or the ‘scary thing’ really is safe, we want to reassure them that we are there for them and that that this is safe and it would be OK for them to try.  You may want to demonstrate for them, or be with them as they try.  The child needs to know that you believe it is safe and it is OK to try.  Once they have given it a try, praise them for their courage and explain that with courage we will accomplish things that we may otherwise pass by and miss the experience.


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