Posted: Mar 31, 2012 8:01 PM
Reinforcing positive attitudes such as caring, empathy and respect begins by teaching children the how and why behind actions and emotions. Parents and caregivers can start these lessons by talking about feelings and consequences at even the earliest age.

Contributed by Claire Haas of Kiddie Academy

Follow these age-appropriate tips to teach your kids about empathy.

18 months to 2 years old

Children this young simply do not feel empathy for others -- or easily express their emotions.

Tip: Talk about how your child's actions impact other people. Lay the groundwork by demonstrating the proper behavior and offer praise when catching your child doing the right thing.

3 years old

Limit your child's ability to make a wrong choice while still allowing them to show concern for others.

Tip: Say: "Would you like to share toy A or toy B with Jimmy?"

4 years old

Empathy for others' feelings really begins to develop at about 4 years old.

Tip: Ask: "How do you think Anne felt when you took away the blocks?"

All ages

Haas also stresses the importance of being a positive role model. Children of all ages study their parents and caregivers for clues on how to behave.

"Character education is a critical part of our 'Life Essentials' curriculum at Kiddie Academy," says Haas, who serves as vice president of education for Kiddie Academy. "Childhood is when personality begins to take shape. Our program teaches even the youngest students to care for and respect each other in a developmentally appropriate fashion."

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