Building Empathy in Kids

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the capacity to take another perspective. But it is not just that capacity. Empathy includes valuing others’ perspectives. It’s about perspective-taking and compassion. Empathy is at the heart of what it means to be human. It is a foundation for acting ethically, for good relationships of many kinds, for loving well, and for professional success.

Why do we do so?

Our world is more polarized than ever before. Each one of us has picked a side – you are either for it or against it. And between these two sides, there remains a gap filled with disdain, disregard, and disrespect. In short, we are losing our ability to agree that another person might have an opinion that is different from ours. We are losing our ability to empathize with others and see the world from others’ perspectives. That is why intentionally building empathy is more important now than ever.

At One Story Avenue, we provide opportunities for children to practice empathy.

Why children?

Learning empathy is in certain respects, like learning a language or a sport. It requires practice and guidance. Regularly considering other people’s perspectives and circumstances help make empathy a natural reflex and, through trial and error, helps children get better at tuning into others’ feelings and perspectives.

What do we do?

We meet once a month. Since our goal is to promote interpersonal empathy, we ask children to narrate stories of another child. When they do so, they learn to become aware and acknowledge their feelings while writing the stories of others.

Session 1: Genre, Subject, and Character Assignments

Four children participated in the session: Ananya, Arnav, Shivan, and Varsha. We randomly allotted genre, subject, and character to each one of them. They could freely interpret their genre, subject, and character assignment in uniquely creative ways. If the assigned genre is a comedy, children may add in elements from other genres. However, the predominant features of the story had to be comical. The assigned subject must be integral to the plot of the story.   The assigned character must be the main protagonist in the story. And the name of the character must be the name of the other kid from the team.

ShivanAnanyaFlawlessA canvasserFairytale
AnayaArnavA negotiationA surfing InstructorComedy
ArnavVarshaA long-distance relationshipA pharmacistSpy
VarshaShivanContagiousA taxi driverDrama

Download the Stories

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