looking glass on a Main win of storytelling
In the search for new stories to tell and listen to I continuously stumble upon the innate strength of older children to fantasize about and empasize with the most wonderful of creatures. They can give voice, reasoning and a picture to creatures that only exist in their minds. However, when asked why adults do certain things or why kids bull each other they seem to be grasping in the dark.
I believe, and have experienced, that storytelling enhances the empathy muscles in children drastically. Why is this so important in kids between the ages of 6 and 10? Let’s have a look at empathy and a childs development in these crucial years.
Emotional development is a crucial aspect of a child’s growth, shaping their ability to understand and connect with others. Between the ages of 6 and 10, children undergo significant milestones in their emotional development, with empathy emerging as a key skill during this period. As we put the looking glass on empathy in children I am sure you will recognize the crucial bridges we can build by incorporating Storyelling and Story-listening into their basic upbringing practices.
Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is a fundamental aspect of emotional intelligence. For children between 6 and 10, this period marks the beginning of a more refined and nuanced understanding of emotions, both their own and those of their peers.
Building Blocks of Empathy:
- Identifying Emotions: Children in this age range start recognizing and labeling their own emotions more accurately. They can extend this understanding to others, discerning different emotions in their friends, family, and classmates.
- Perspective-Taking: As cognitive abilities mature, children become more capable of taking on different perspectives. This allows them to imagine how others might feel in a given situation, laying the groundwork for empathetic responses.
- Expressing Empathy: Encouraging children to express empathy verbally or through actions is crucial. Simple acts of kindness, such as offering comfort to a friend or helping someone in need, become more frequent and natural as children develop empathy.
- Active Listening: The ability to listen actively is a key component of empathy. Children at this age start learning to listen attentively, validating others’ emotions and demonstrating a genuine interest in understanding their friends and family.
- Modeling Empathetic Behavior: Children learn by example, so parents and caregivers should model empathetic behavior in their interactions with others. Demonstrating kindness, understanding, and compassion creates a positive environment for the development of empathy.
- Encouraging Emotional Expression: Create a safe space for children to express their emotions openly. This encourages them to become more aware of their feelings and, in turn, helps them develop a deeper understanding of others’ emotions.
- Promoting Perspective-Taking Activities: Engage children in activities that encourage them to see the world from different viewpoints. This could include reading books, watching movies, or discussing real-life scenarios that prompt them to consider the emotions of others.
- Teaching Conflict Resolution: Empathy plays a crucial role in resolving conflicts. Teach children effective communication skills and conflict resolution strategies that prioritize understanding others’ perspectives and finding mutually beneficial solutions.
Empathy is a vital skill that blossoms during the ages of 6 to 10, laying the foundation for healthy social relationships and emotional intelligence. By fostering an environment in that encourages emotional expression, perspective-taking, and modeling empathetic behavior through storytelling and other creative practices, parents and caregivers can support the development of this essential skill in children, contributing to their overall well-being and success in interpersonal relationships.
This is one of the main reasons why I enjoy teaching storytelling to children. It starts with awareness and fun, the rest is up to them!