Did you know it takes a few years for a child to develop empathy?
And while we are all born with the capacity to develop empathy... it needs nurturing and teaching to really come through.
Empathy is the ability to recognize other people's feelings - putting ourselves "in their shoes". In other words - to correct aggressiveness in a child, we first need to teach empathy and compassion.
A toddler that pushes others, for example, hasn't yet learned what other kids feel when they get pushed.
There are simple steps to help our little ones develop their empathy and compassion:
1. Label emotions. When you are at the park, and another child falls or cries, point that out to your child: "Look, that kid is SAD, because he FELL and that HURTS".
2. Model your own empathy. When your child falls, show her your own empathy. "I can see that it is very PAINFUL for you".
3. Use pictures to teach your little one to identify different emotions. So when they see it in others, they can recognize how they are feeling. (Look up "emotions wheel" online for free printables).
4. Use this holiday season to teach your kids about compassion for others. There are lots of charitable organizations that welcome help from little ones when accompanied by an adult. Some offer simple tasks, like bagging food or driving to drop off clothes with you. (Focus on charities that focus on people rather pets for the purpose of this exercise).