Which students need counseling for Empathy?
Well, if you’re reading this, you probably know which kiddos I am referring to. I’ve found that the students that I am providing lessons on empathy for are often children with behavioral issues, difficulty with social skill, and/or a combination of the two. Getting very specific on teaching empathy in counseling can help students better navigate the school environment and hopefully make friends. Yes, some of these students have a diagnosis or eligibility of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Others have poor emotional regulation because of ADHD, poor mental health, or trauma. But, the focus for Empathy-specific counseling is on helping them understand how their words or behaviors impact others. By helping them to think about and eventually understand that other people have feelings too, just like them, children can better learn to avoid the behaviors that hurt others or make them unhappy, sad, or mad.
Step one is often my go-to introduction to the topic of Empathy…VIDEOS!
I will use these videos for both small group counseling and whole class SEL. They are fun and I always have students enjoy them as an activity because they are designed as “games.”
Worksheets for Teaching Empathy
Sometimes I will combine a video on Empathy with a worksheet. Worksheets are best for students who are generally in second grade or higher due to their need for reading and writing skills. I do not really use worksheets too often in my counseling, however, because many of my students have reading and writing disabilities. Others really just don’t like writing. If I have a student with low writing skills o resistance to writing, I will sometimes write for them if I really want to use a worksheet for their counseling session.
I have made a few Empathy themed worksheets, but the one’s that I use most often for my own students are either focused on learning to identify emotions of others or the “walking in someone else’s shoes” worksheet. Here they are below:
Games for Teaching Empathy
Once students learn the concept of Empathy, you can play a game with them to help them practice thinking about other’s feelings in a variety of scenarios. The games that I use I made with scenarios taken right out of the behaviors that my students have had. Here are a few of the games that you can use below. The first two are for “in-person” counseling and the third game can be played on a laptop over Zoom for Teletherapy.
This Empathy themed Counseling activity is for Elementary or Middle School students who are working on understanding and thinking about the feelings of others. Empathy is an important Social Skill for helping children build and maintain positive relationships with others.
- Review the quick lesson on Empathy.
- Then have the students take turns picking a scenario card from a hat or box. Then have them answer, “What was the emotion that the underlined person felt?”
- If the group (or Counselor) agrees, then the student can color in a “Level”, beginning at Level 1 and ending at Level 4.
- All players continue the game until everyone has finished their “Tower to Empathy”
This next game is a Power Point slide, so it can be used on your laptop. This way, the game can be played both in your office or over Zoom for distance learning or teletherapy counseling.