The mission of It’s OK to be Different is to comprehensively foster Empathy, Understanding, and Kindness in all children.
Why is developing empathy important for children?
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and understand what they are feeling or experiencing. In the early years of life, young children are naturally ego-centric and are very much inclined to think mostly about themselves and their immediate needs. They’re not yet ready to consider the needs and feelings of others.
But developing a sense of empathy is an important developmental process for young children, and one that can benefit them not only in childhood but well into adult life as well. Building an understanding of what others are feeling, how their own actions can impact on others, and why someone might be experiencing feelings at a particular time is a valuable life skill for children to possess.
Helping young children to develop a strong sense of empathy is beneficial because:
It helps them to build a sense of security and stronger relationships with other children and educators, positioning them well for learning
It encourages tolerance and acceptance of others
It promotes good mental health
It promotes social harmony and can reduce the likelihood of bullying
The benefits of empathetic thinking flow into adult life too. Empathetic adults may have:
Greater success personally and professionally
Higher levels of overall happiness
A better ability to understand others, like customers or co-workers
More success in leadership positions
More satisfying relationships and be better at dealing with conflict
Lower levels of stress
These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. In a nutshell, developing empathy is a vital building block in a child’s ability to regulate their emotions and is so valuable in being able to adapt and succeed in an ever-changing world.