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Set a good example for youth

By KIM RAGLAND

4-H Agent

As a parent or caregiver, you are the single most important influence on the lives of children in your care. If you want those children to develop empathy and exhibit respect, one of the best ways to teach them is by modeling empathy and respect in your daily life.

Sometimes it is hard for us to empathize with others who have different backgrounds and viewpoints, but it is crucial for us to consciously practice empathy and respect. When young people see you empathizing with and being respectful of those who differ from you, they learn appropriate behaviors, particularly for public settings. Empathy and respect can be learned and nurtured, and they, in turn, help promote kindness.

While it is important to feel firm in our beliefs, it is equally important to be respectful of those who believe differently. Here are some tips to help teach young people how to be more empathetic, respectful and kind.

Develop their emotional awareness by sharing your feelings throughout the day. We can all feel a wide range of emotions each day. We can help young people understand and identify their emotions, so they can recognize the same emotions in others. Use everyday situations to show your young person examples of what it means to be caring, cooperative and fair.

Be courteous and respectful in your daily interactions with others. When you show real interest in the feelings of other people, use manners, and spend your time and energy on them, it teaches youth about caring, compassion and unselfishness. Explain your motives for your behavior and respecting others to young people.

Acknowledge when they have been kind to others. Compliment youth and show that you are proud of them for their positive behaviors.

Expose them to diversity. Exposing young people to different perspectives is a great way to promote empathy and respect. You can expose your child to diversity in many ways including reading books, eating at restaurants with ethnic cuisine, being involved in community events and institutions and traveling.

It is ok to admit to your child when you have made a mistake. Everyone has bad days. That is just a part of being human. Specific, simple apologies go a long way to show your young person that is ok to admit when you are wrong and are sorry.

For more information about opportunities to help your child grow through Boyle County 4-H, please visit us on Facebook (Boyle County Extension and Boyle County 4H Online), visit our website (boyle.ca.uky.edu), call us 236-4484 or email marycatherine.rowland@uky.edu.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.