Teaching Kids About Empathy and Kindness on RUOK? Day
National RUOK? Day takes place this year on Thursday, September 8. On this day, people are encouraged to take the time to talk to those around them and have meaningful conversations.
This day serves as a reminder about the importance of connection and community in helping promote good mental health. It’s based on the belief that asking a simple question and listening with empathy can change lives.
RUOK? Day was founded to help the vulnerable, but everyone can benefit from this worthwhile initiative.
Studies have found that many young people feel depressed and disconnected. Sharing their feelings and treating others with kindness will help children develop coping strategies and help them use their support network when going through difficult times.
Here are some ways you can teach your child about empathy and kindness on RUOK? Day.
Talk about feelings
One of the main reasons people feel disconnected is because they don’t know how to talk about their feelings. When feelings are bottled up, they can cause depression and anxiety.
Encouraging your child to name their emotions is a vital first step in learning to express their feelings. Being able to verbalise what they’re feeling will help kids develop resiliency. This also helps build empathy for others as kids become more aware of how feelings influence people’s behaviour.
Model active listening
To share their emotions, worries and fears kids need to feel safe. The best way to help them feel this way is by practising active listening. This involves giving your child your full attention while they’re speaking and affirming what they’ve said. Also, use non-verbal cues like eye contact and nodding.
This RUOK? Day, make the effort to talk to your child and really listen to their responses. Discuss active listening, and why it’s so important for people to feel like they are being heard.
Recognise the signs
Everyone needs to know what signs to look out for when someone is not feeling their best. Take the opportunity on RUOK? Day to discuss how people might act when they’re sad or depressed.
To help your child recognise the signs someone is struggling, ask them how they might behave when they are dealing with difficult emotions. Talk about why people sometimes withdraw or become angry when they don’t feel good.
Act with kindness
Small acts of kindness can make a big difference to another person’s day. Even if someone doesn’t want to open up about how they’re feeling, help your child understand there are many ways to show support.
This might involve inviting another child to join in a game at school, sharing a tasty treat on the playground or starting a conversation with a classmate who seems lonely. These small things can help someone who is struggling feel cared for and supported.
Take the opportunity this RUOK? Day to teach your child about empathy and kindness.