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Teach your child to empathise

In a time when children are more concerned with what their next ‘selfie’ will be than how their friends and others are feeling, it is more important than ever for parents and teachers to make a concerted effort to teach children how to empathise.

“A classroom of learners that are empathetic runs much smoother. School life is both more harmonious, and more productive when children are able to understand one another’s feelings and put the needs of others first,” says Lynne Arbuckle, primary school principal of Riverside College, a pre-primary and high school situated in Cape Town’s Burgundy Estate.

According to Arbuckle, a class filled with children who are empathetic makes for a much better learning environment.

How do you get your child to empathise with others? Arbuckle offers some useful tips:

  • Lead by example: Children look up to their parents and teachers – by being empathetic towards your child you are providing an example of how they can show empathy towards others.
  • Make kindness a routine: Challenge your kids to do at least two kind things a day – ask them what they were on the way home from school.
  • Be “feeling investigators”: Ask your children to “investigate” how others are feeling – talk about the different feelings they may find and how to deal with them.
  • Ask, “How would you feel?”: Encourage children to put themselves in others shoes – this will help them to understand why they may be feeling the way they are.
  • Best and worst: Take turns around the dinner table to express the best and worst parts of your day. This will encourage children to talk about any good or bad feelings they may have experienced on a regular basis and teaches them to listen to others feelings too.


Lynne Arbuckle has been the principal of Riverside College, based in Cape Town’s Burgundy Estate, since 2013. The pre-primary, primary and secondary schools have a holistic approach to education, with a comprehensive academic, sports and extra mural activity programme. All classes are capped at 24 learners.





Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:

Sarah Waterfield

021 447 1082 / 060 677 6235


On behalf of Riverside College:

Founder: Elana Edwards






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