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Empathy: Why Perspective-Taking Matters for Elementary Kids

Empathy: Why Perspective-Taking Matters for Elementary Kids 1

Do you often see your students get into squabbles with one another? Do you often feel like you’re telling your students, “Would you like that if that happened to you?” Teaching perspective-taking can help students build empathy skills. Often our students lack the skill of perspective and understanding empathy (or how to be empathetic toward others). 

Why Perspective-Taking Matters for Elementary Kids 1

How to Build an Understanding of Empathy with Perspective-Taking

Empathy is a big deal—even for little ones. One awesome part of empathy is called perspective-taking, and it’s all about seeing things from someone else’s point of view. Let’s dive into why this skill is super important for elementary kids and how it can make a big difference in their everyday lives.

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Why Perspective-Taking Rocks for Elementary Students:

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  • Becoming Better Friends: When kids can see things from their friends’ perspectives, they become better friends. They understand how their friends feel and can show them kindness and support, making their friendships even stronger.
  • Squashing Spats: Perspective-taking helps kids deal with disagreements without all the drama. Instead of just seeing their side of the story, they can understand where the other person is coming from, which makes it way easier to find solutions and make peace.
  • Celebrating Differences: By learning to see things from different angles, kids learn to appreciate what makes each person unique. They realize that everyone’s got their own story and way of looking at things, which helps them be more accepting and inclusive.
  • School Superpowers: Perspective-taking isn’t just handy for making friends—it’s also a secret weapon for school success. When kids can understand different viewpoints, they become better at working in groups, sharing ideas, and solving problems together. That’s some serious brainpower!
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How to Teach Perspective-Taking to Elementary Students:

  1. Play Pretend: Get kids into storytelling and pretend play where they can step into different shoes. Whether it’s acting out scenes from their favorite stories or imagining what it’s like to be someone else.
  2. Game On: Bring on the empathy games! Try out fun activities like “How Would You Feel?” or “What Would You Do?” where kids get to imagine themselves in different situations and think about how they’d react.
  3. Real Life, Real Lessons: Use everyday moments like playground squabbles or classroom conflicts as teachable moments. Encourage kids to think about how the other person might be feeling and what they can do to make things better.
  4. Keep it Real: Break down empathy and perspective-taking into kid-friendly terms. Use stories, examples, and pictures to help them understand what it’s all about and why it’s so awesome.
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Why it’s important to teach perspective-taking?

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Teaching elementary kids to see things from different perspectives isn’t just about being nice—it’s about giving them the superpower to understand and connect with others in a whole new way. So let’s keep encouraging empathy and perspective-taking in our classrooms and communities because when kids learn to walk in someone else’s shoes, they’re stepping toward a brighter, kinder world for all of us.

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My name is Dee, and I am a General Education teacher turned school level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Combining my time in the classroom and my work as a BCBA, I have over 18 years of experience working directly with students with autism, ADHD, ODD, Intellectual Disabilities, Speech Language Impairments, and other social skills deficits. I look forward to sharing ideas with you.

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