"E" is for Empathy | What Every Primary School Child Needs!

Let’s see if Ms Xie passes the empathy test!

Putting yourself in another’s shoes.

Have you ever heard of this phrase? Having empathy for someone is like that. Empathy is experiencing and understanding another person’s point of view as well as his or her thoughts and feelings about a certain situation. It is about stepping outside of yourself and reaching out to understand what is happening to another person.

Empathy is the social glue that bonds people and keeps them together. You most frequently need empathy when you need to work with others, or when someone like a friend or family member is feeling down. You will also appreciate empathy from others in similar situations when they try to understand what you feel or think.

So what are some of the strategies that we can do to develop empathy?

1. Show that you’re interested in the person’s problem and that you’re willing to listen.

When we see that someone is angry or sad, our first instinct is to try and fix it. You don’t have to remind them of the problem. Stop to think about where they are coming from. Listen to them and what they have to say.

Do you see? In this way, we find out more information about the situation and we do not judge them unfairly. In fact, judgement is what they do not need.

2. Acknowledge their pain.

We should acknowledge their pain. What are some ways in which we can acknowledge their pain?

Check out some of these sentences:

  • "I’m so sorry that this happened to you."

  • "It makes me sad to hear that this happened!"

  • "I heard that that test was really challenging!"

  • "I know that you tried hard."

These sentences show that the person is attempting to put themselves in the person’s shoes and is trying hard to feel what the other person feels.

3. Be encouraging or supportive.

Being encouraging and supportive is very different from providing a solution, such as:

  • "Oh dear. I’m sure you can pass the next time around!"

  • "Remember that I’m here for you."

  • "What do you need help with?"


All in all, if you want to show empathy to someone who is upset, remember to:

  • Show that you’re interested in the person’s problem

  • Acknowledge their pain

  • Be encouraging

Showing empathy in real life is actually tougher because you have to tailor your response to the person. However, showing that you’re willing to take the time off to listen and not pass judgement is already half the battle won.

Lil' but Mighty | Primary English Teacher

Ms. Xie is an English Teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. Her best subject has always been English and she's been writing ever since she could hold a pen. Her first book, Dragonhearted, was shortlisted for the Scholastic Asian Book Award in 2014 and published in 2016. It was also shortlisted for the Singapore Book Awards in 2017. She also won the Hedwig Anuar Children's Book Award in 2018.