How Families Can Build Cultural Empathy

How Families Can Build Cultural Empathy

How Families Can Build Cultural Empathy

Children are vulnerable during their formative years when it comes to reaching maturity and developing empathy and cultural humility. If they are not going to be taught these behaviors early, they may never learn them. It is not up to any individual to decide what children will or will not learn. If children are unable to reach these developmental milestones, the difference in success will reside in how they approach these issues later in life.

Children are exposed to many different cultures at an early age. Families often struggle in balancing their own cultures and the cultures of their children. When children grow up, their exposure to different cultures will continue throughout their lifetimes. Some parents struggle in maintaining harmony and positive interactions between their children and different cultures. By understanding the dynamic between these two major forces, we may be able to provide the resources necessary to ensure better relationships for both parents and children in the future.

1. Playtime

During their formative years, children are exposed to many different cultures. Families often struggle in balancing their own cultures and the cultures of their children. When children grow up, their exposure to different cultures will continue throughout their lifetimes. Some parents struggle in maintaining harmony and positive interactions between their children and different cultures. By understanding the dynamic between these two major forces, we may be able to provide the resources necessary to ensure better relationships for both parents and children in the future.

Study the work of children psychologist Martin Seligman and psychologist Linda C. Hartman. Hartman and Seligman have demonstrated that children are able to develop helpful, adaptive empathy skills when playing within their cultures. Those skills result in increased empathy of the other child’s experience. Children are also able to form these skills in a less rigid way by using a variety of cultural play experiences. Even when these learning are playing with game animals or other objects, the ability to play within the culture and provide helpful reactions to others is learned. Children learn new skills through their play. When playing within cultures, they are creating these skills for their own future selves.

Our play experiences build new emotional, physical, and intellectual tools. The many “realities” that children experience throughout their lives can be changed or can be learned. By focusing on the cultural experiences that we have had, we can enhance our empathy skills with our own children.

2. Dinner and Appreciating Foods Other than Meat

Children are exposed to many different cultures at an early age. Families often struggle in balancing their own cultures and the cultures of their children. Children often feel like their parents can see everything in a different way. Parents can lose sight of how their children, and the world around them, develop. When children grow up, their exposure to different cultures will continue throughout their lifetimes. When they are able to develop cultural humility and empathy skills, they will be equipped with the emotional intelligence they need in order to connect with others and solve problems.

Role-play situations with your children. Place yourself in their shoes and place yourself in the shoes of the other child. Have a talk about their involvement in the situation. Acknowledging differences helps to build empathy and culture humility in children. Families can also attend cultural celebrations for these meals. Parents and children can also make their own meaningful gifts in a cultural or religious tradition. It is important to understand the meaning behind why a tradition is important to that culture, and to incorporate this into the family tradition.

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