It’s not too early for infants and toddlers to develop a strong foundation for showing empathy
What You Need to Know
Showing empathy means imagining how someone feels and responding with care or kindness. Infants and toddlers are just beginning to develop the skills to recognize emotions, consider others’ perspectives, and respond with care. Teachers play an essential role in fostering empathy by establishing secure, warm relationships with infants and toddlers. Young children are keen observers. As adults consider and care for the needs of others, they model those behaviors for young children.
What It Looks Like
A quick glance at ways you can help infants and toddlers understand and develop empathy for others
Recognize Acts of Kindness
Encourage and acknowledge children’s acts of kindness. It’s a great way to help children see how their actions can impact others in positive ways.
Encourage Perspective Taking
Prompt children to consider how others may be thinking or feeling, like this teacher does during the book reading. This supports their growing understanding that others, including themselves, experience various emotions.
Highlight Care During Play
Focus children’s attention on the ways they are caring for others, both during pretend play and with peers in the classroom. This fosters their development of empathy.
FOSTERING EMPATHY THROUGH BOOKS
Hooray for Hat!
Written and illustrated by Brian Won, this delightful story shows how a simple act of kindness can brighten up someone else’s day by showing we care.
Empathy and Racial Trauma
Use this educator’s guide from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network that lays out how to address racial trauma in the classroom, including how you can model empathy when you address racial trauma.
Modeling Empathy at Home
Written by Amanda Morin for Understood.org, this blog highlights how adults can show empathy to kids who learn and think differently.
Equitable Interactions in ECE
In this webinar, Stephanie Curenton and Bridget Hamre discuss an equity lens that teachers can use to understand how children of color feel in the early childhood classroom. They also share strategies to ensure children get the right amount of support.
Activity Cards for Infant and Toddler Classrooms
Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways you can prompt older infants and toddlers to consider the perspective of others
Get Our Resource Guide
Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of our core social-emotional skills