Encouraging Preschoolers to Begin Building Relationships through Empathy and Friendships
Preschool children are becoming aware of others’ emotions and can express and demonstrate empathy.
This is also the age when children are learning social skills and ‘rules of engagement’ as they are developing friendships. So it is a perfect time for parents to help their children by role modeling as well as by discussing the importance of relationships and communication.
The following are tips for parents to help their preschool age children learn social skills and develop empathy:
- Be careful of the language you use. If you are critical of other people in front of your children or say unkind remarks, your children will learn this is acceptable behavior.
- Express and demonstrate empathy for others – and encourage your child to do the same. “Oh, look, Olivia fell down. Let’s go help her.” “Can you see the picture in the book of the little boy who is helping his friend?”
- Help your child develop social skills by providing the language of friendship. “Would you like Devon to play with you? Why don’t you ask him if he would like to build a sand castle with you?”
- Help your child understand others’ points of view. “I think Oliver is sad that he has to leave the park.”
- Teach your child to imagine how his/her words or actions might affect others. “I wonder how Charlie is feeling after you said he couldn’t play with you.” Then help her make amends. “How can you show Charlie you would like to be his friend?”
Limit screen time for everyone in the family! Setting this standard early, will result in less stress and upset for all concerned later on!