Teaching through Empathy

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Dr. Aarti Bakshi, Psychologist, Pediatric Department, Max Hospital, Noida

While searching for his toy, my five year old son, Adi, came across the stuffed bunny rabbit I had when I was about his age. I, being a fan of imaginary creatures in those good old days, had named it then Bugs Bunny. “Where are the Bunny’s ears?” He asked. I explained that once when I was a kid, I had gone to a neighbour’s home where their dog got hold of the Bunny and chewed its ears. He was stunned.

With a grim face, he stroked the Bunny’s head and went to see his elder sister. Soberly, they discussed what had happened to the Bunny and declared, “We will fix him.”

As most parents will agree, young children are compassionate by default. Small in physique, they instinctively identify with other kids, soft toys and pets. The tricky part is nurture their empathy with other developmental forces to teach them a way of living, rather that just the bookish knowledge. Researches tell us that the personality of a child starts developing in the younger years, and gets sealed by the time a child turns 12. Promoting care, kindness and understanding through education results in the development of various skills, including generation of awareness and the ability to distinguish the feelings, taking another person’s perspective into consideration and being able to regulate one’s own emotional responses.

Keeping these thoughts in mind, I organized an activity for children aged between 8 to 10 years old. The objective was to sensitize them to the needs and rights of the special students. The information and task were devised to help them foster a deeper understanding and accept handicap children as normal, rather than fearing them and to encourage them to use their strengths while becoming aware of their  of their weaknesses.

To conclude, teaching the children a few ways to treat others with compassion helps to develop the understanding that actions have consequences. They develop a personality that is gentle, sympathetic and friendly. Such children, when they grow up, bring hope to our world that too often knows only the contempt, unrest and mockery.

 

(Dr. Aarti Bakshi, is a practicing Psychologist, with the Pediatric Department, at Max Hospital, Noida. She believes, in schools and homes playing an integral part in keeping children safe. Along with her hospital practice, she also creates social emotional curriculums for school and does workshops for teachers, high school students and helps set up special needs departments in hospitals and schools. You may contact her at [email protected])

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