Empathy is something many of you will recognise in your own highly sensitive children, and most likely something you see in yourself if you are a highly sensitive parent. It’s not something, however, that is easy to give a name to when you are child. And it’s certainly not something that comes automatically to all children.
It’s why I was delighted to take a peek at a Happy Heart Kid Empathy pack, an activity pack that is all about character building. As I am outside the USA my pack didn’t include the physical materials but it did include all the documents, including an activity book and very clear instructions to get children talking about empathy, what it is and how to apply it.
My three sons (7, 4 and 3) and I sat and talked about what empathy is, how it is to know how someone feels in a certain situation. We read the story included in the pack and then talked about it. My sons were animated and enthusiastic answering questions, role playing and coming up with alternative reactions and responses to the characters in the story.
We then used the pack to create our own faces which showed different emotions. I then asked them to show emotions on their own face, and their brothers guessed the emotions they showed. They had fun, but my youngest two also learnt just how far we can read emotions on someone else’s face – a valuable lesson.
We then talked about bunches of flowers – the last activity in the Happy Heart Kid empathy pack. We talked about why we give flowers, when we give flowers and the affect on someone of giving flowers. Our neighbour recently died and we took flowers to his wife to show our condolences. My eldest summed up beautifully why we had done that – to show her that we know she is sad and that we are sad too. We had bought the flowers for our neighbour, and not really talked about it until we delved in to the Happy Heart Kid pack. It was eye opening for me too to see just how much emotion there was about this sad event.
Since the day we sat and discussed empathy using the Happy Heart Kid pack, I have referred back to what we talked about on a daily basis. “How do you think your brother feels when you do that?” I ask. Every time they stop and think, “Sad,” one will respond, or “Angry.”
A pack that I happily volunteered to review turned out to be a powerful character tool indeed – and I only had half of the pack available to me! It was a great way to talk about emotions, not just my children’s but of those around us too.
You can read more about the Happy Heart Kid kickstarter campaign here.