Podcast Episode #19: How to Raise an Empathetic Kid

2020: a never ending source of stress for many of us. When we’re stressed, empathy is difficult to muster. What does that mean for our kids?​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

We spoke with Dr. Michele Borba, an educational psychologist, parenting expert, and author of 24 books, including UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All About Me World about simple things we can do as parents to raise an empathetic kid in an all-about-me world. 

Dr. Borba notes how self-regulation and empathy have a huge tie-in to each other. You can’t self-regulate if you can’t identify your own emotions. 

People need to be able to practice self-regulation to manage their emotional reaction, so they’re in a place where they can start to practice empathy.

What as parents can we do to help encourage that?

Learning how to read non-verbal skills.

Help build your child’s emotional literacy. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This means helping your child read facial expressions, voice tone, body language, and make eye contact! ​​​​​​​

This can easily be done while reading a book, ask what the character might be feeling and why, when watching TV, or even while you are out at a store or at dinner.

Look around at others. There are countless opportunities to practice this skill.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Make it a priority.

Once you realize it matters, you’ll focus on it. Just like everything else in our life. When we realize that it’s important, we tend to work on it more.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

You’ve got to understand the why. 

Check out the research on the importance of self regulation and empathy. There are books on the topic (Maybe read Unselfie) or just look for the latest research by setting up a Google alert.

Model it yourself. 

Children are watching us- All. The. Time! So start showing your kids your own empathy skills.

When they tell you about a situation that happened at school, ask how the friend might have felt.

When you tell a story about a coworker, make sure to note what non-verbal cues you noticed during the interaction. And of course, make it a habit to be aware of your own children’s feelin​​​​​​​​​​​​​​gs and non-verbal cues. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

READ: Positive Discipline at Home: The Four Basics of Positive Parenting

Start intentionally talking about emotions. 

Talk about emotions in movies, books, songs, stories.

Ask younger kids to make a face like a character displaying an emotion. No Guilt Mom has an amazing course for kids called Emotions 911. We also have the S.I.B. Journal launching in just a few weeks where we teach kids how to identify their emotions and how to be aware of their siblings feelings as well.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

READ: Teach Kids Feelings: 2 Activities You Can Do With Your Child

But this isn’t full list, so be sure to listen to the entire podcast for all of Dr. Borba’s suggestions. These simple things can help your child build their empathy skills which can become a superpower that will help them (and us) get through a crisis and be strong together!

Resources we shared:

Michele Borba


Emotions 911

Download the Transcripts HERE

The best mom is a happy mom. To better take care of you, download our No Guilt Mom mindset here .  These reminders will help you second guess less, and feel more confidence every day in your parenting.

Brie Tucker

COO/ Podcast Producer at No Guilt Mom
Brie Tucker has over 20 years of experience coaching parents with a background in early childhood and special needs. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri and is certified in Positive Discipline as well as a Happiest Baby Educator.

She’s a divorced mom to two teenagers.

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