How Characters Teach Kids About Empathy – One Ice Bucket At a Time!

Pablo from Curiosityville Accepts ALS Nomination

No matter how different we may be from one another, we are hard wired for compassion and empathy.  

Empathy is an emotion or feeling that allows us to understand and internalize how others are feeling even without experiencing it our selves.  Perspective taking is the sister emotion to empathy – enabling us to see another persons point of view.  Ellen Galinsky, in Mind in the Making speaks about the importance of this important social thinking skill.  

Researchers have learned we begin developing our sense of empathy in our early years, so it’s important that we provide opportunities for children to develop and grow through their personal experiences. 

Like so many skills, young children begin to understand the world through observation and modeling.  Empathy is no different. By observing others, and later in actions either in play or real situation, children experience different feelings and learn how to respond to them.  Through this process an emotional roadmap develops.

We also know that the characters in young children’s lives are fantastic role models.  Think about your favorite stuffed toys, stories and video friends.  Children attach to these characters for emotional support and comfort – often using them to try new things through make believe play.  

So, when the ALS Bucket Challenge came along we thought, what better way to help children see and demonstrate empathy.  

Not only has the ALS social media campaign made a significant impact in raising awareness and funds, but it has also allowed children the chance see friends, family members and even their favorite characters take the challenge and then to participate themselves. 

The nature of the challenge, in which someone completes the ice-bucket challenge on video and then nominates a friend to do the same, makes it an ideal way to recreate a scenario that fosters empathy and a real connection to others.

When Curiosityville heard about the ALS challenge, we saw an opportunity to not only get involved and support a great cause, but also to create an empathy-developing scenario that can be recreated in real life for children to learn from the experiences of their lovable friends from Curiosityville.

To get the ball rolling, our favorite artist friend, Pablo, took the reigns and accepted his nomination to complete the ice-bucket challenge from Rosie, our brain Scientist. From there, he nominated his good friends Curious George, Tacky the Penguin, and Dr. Michael Levine of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center to do the same. 

Connecting children’s characters with real-world activities for children, especially with activities closely-tied to positive causes or charity events, is an exceptional way to foster and grow children’s empathetic emotions. The more we can integrate these characters into our children’s world, the more our children will also want to be involved. 

Here are some other ways to help kids develop empathy:

  • Model Caring Behavior
  • Name Emotions
  • Interpret Emptions
  • Role Play Helpful Behaviors
  • Be Supportive 

Let us know some of the ways you build empathy at school and at home.  Also, make sure to stop by our Facebook page to watch their ALS videos and see the whole story unfold!!! 

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Curiosityville is a personalized learning world for children ages 3 to 8 and their families. Our playful activities and games, lovable characters, and innovative technology help parents become great first teachers and children great learners—ready for school and life.