The emotionally charged performance of the Koi Boys when they sang “Let It Be” in their battle with Daniel Shaw on The Voice earlier this week touched so many hearts.
They dedicated the song to the families and communities affected by the Christchurch shooting earlier this year when a lone gunman killed 51 people and injured a further 49. (See the video of their performance below.)
You may have felt like me as you sat at home watching with tears in your eyes, and sharing their heart-felt emotions. I really felt for Kelly who had trouble speaking through her tears. And what about poor kind-hearted Delta? She left the stage sobbing and had to compose herself before making her difficult choice about which act to take with her into the finals.
The Koi Boys affected us all because of their wonderful ability to convey their emotions and our empathy as we totally understood and felt what they were going through.
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What is empathy?
Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings of others. Empathy is also defined as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.
When we have empathy for someone else’s problems that really helps us to understand what the other person is going through. That, in turn, helps us connect on a deeper level so that together we can come up with better solutions. And that is so important as life is becoming more and more complex and humanity as a whole is facing some pretty drastic challenges like terrorism and an increasingly damaged environment.
What you can do as a parent to help your kids develop more empathy?
The best way for you as a parent to help your kids develop more of this very important trait is to model it to them and be the example of what you’d like them to be.
When your child tells you about a problem, make sure you:
- Are present – stop the chatter inside your own head about what you’re going to cook for dinner tonight, or thinking about what your reply is going to be. Clear your mind and really focus on your child as they are talking about what’s bothering them. When you fully focus on someone as they’re talking you often pick up very valuable clues about what else might be going on. That can help you come up with a better solution to their problem.
- Listen actively – when we listen actively to our kids, we not only hear their words but we also look for meaning behind their words. We show we are listening intently by making eye contact, by using encouraging words such as ‘ah ha’, ‘really?’, ‘go on’, ‘and then what happened?’. When they finish talking, summarise what they have told you so they know you really have been listening, or alternatively ask them a question based on what they have already told you.
- Use your imagination - as they are telling you their story, activate your senses and imagination. Allow yourself to feel their feelings and picture the sounds and sights as they’re telling you their story. That will really help you put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are experiencing.
What do you already do to help your child develop their empathy? Tell us in the comments below.
About the Author
Anky is an experienced positive parenting trainer and life coach with over 10 years’ experience and 15 positive psychology, positive parenting and life coaching related qualifications. She has helped many families and individuals achieve positive outcomes in life including improved family harmony and relationships, work/life balance, and health.
Visit www.facebook.com/cohesivecoaching to get in touch.