This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching about empathy. It is designed to complement the Empathy topic on BrainPOP Jr.

Empathy is understanding the feelings of another person. Share with your child that being aware of our own feelings can help us understand other people’s feelings. 

How can children become aware of their feelings? One way is to think about how their bodies respond when they feel a certain way. Ask your child what they do when they are happy or excited. They might smile and laugh, or even bounce a little bit. Point out that when they’re angry they might put their hands in a fist or their faces might turn red. Explain when we are aware of what our bodies do when we feel a certain way, we can recognize the same feelings in other people. 

Discuss with your child what we can say or do to show that we understand and care about another person’s feelings. Ask them to think of a time a friend was sad. What made them sad?  Did your child do something to make the friend feel better? If so, what was it? Ask your child to imagine being in their friend’s shoes. What would make them feel better?  

Brainstorm with your child different ways we can show empathy. One way is to pay attention and be a good listener. If a friend is feeling bad, explain that they can show they care by looking into the friend’s eyes, nodding their heads when they agree, and remembering not to interrupt. Let your child know that when it is their turn to talk they should focus on their friend and say kind and encouraging things. Part of empathy is thinking about what people have said to make us feel better in the past and do those same things. 

Remind your child that sometimes people might not feel like talking, and that’s O.K. We can show support just by being there, and being a good friend.  

Compassion is different from empathy.  Explain that empathy is understanding how someone feels, while compassion is about helping them feel better. So, being empathetic leads to being compassionate and helpful.  A friend shows compassion, and will help someone who’s going through a rough time by saying supportive things, such as, “It was great that you ______.” “You’re strong because _______.”  “Thank you for ______.” One of the most important ways we can show empathy and compassion is inviting a person to do something fun. 

Remind children that we all know what it’s like to feel sad, angry, lonely, or hurt. People with empathy recognize those feelings and think about how they can help.  Providing your child with techniques to help them be both empathetic and compassionate will allow them to take charge of their own emotional health and well-being—and also be great members of any community!