Developing Empathy

Showing empathy means imagining how someone else is feeling and responding with care or kindness

child helps a friend with his shoe

What You Need to Know

As preschoolers start to develop empathy, they first need a basic understanding of emotions. Then, they will begin to understand that everyone has needs and that those needs may (and often are!) different from their own. As their understanding grows, they can help to meet other’s needs. You can support this development by prompting children to consider the abilities, needs, feelings, and perspectives of others and by giving them the opportunity to provide care to others in meaningful ways.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at ways you can help students understand and develop empathy for others

Talk about Feeling Disappointed

Prompting children to think about emotions supports their growing understanding that people, including themselves, have various needs and feelings.

Help Out a Friend

Acknowledging children’s acts of kindness is a great way to have children link their actions to how they may impact others in positive ways.

Care During Play

Focus children’s attention on the ways they take care of others. Encouragement like this supports their development of empathy.