Teaching Empathy and Compassion

“Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar
is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.”
-Bradley Miller

Why is it important to foster empathy in children? 

Children who are empathetic are more resilient, confident and better able to handle stressful situations. Empathetic children are less likely to be overly aggressive. Empathy promotes moral intelligence. Morally intelligent people make decisions that benefit themselves and the people around them. An important lesson in empathy and respect for others is that animals are living beings and should be treated with respect and compassion.

Why is it important to teach compassion to children?

Children trained to extend kindness, and mercy to animals become more just, kind, and considerate in their relations with each other. Anti-Cruelty puts a special emphasis on humane education believing what research has shown, that children who abuse animals are at risk to becoming adults who may commit acts of violence toward people as well. In contrast, children who learn to be kind to animals will often continue into adulthood with compassion and respect for other living beings.

Resources for Fostering Empathy and Compassion

Donate to an animal shelter! Taking the time to perform a service that benefits others is a great way to teach compassion. Check out our list of DIY Donations and Service Projects to get started.

Provide proper care to your own pet and show your child how to do the same.  You can also download our pet care coloring book in English and Spanish. If you don’t have a pet, don’t fret! Click here for illustrated guides and games to encourage empathy and compassion in the animal-lover in your home.

To find a great children’s book that promotes empathy and compassion, choose a winner of the Henry Bergh Book Award.