The very first people a child relates to are their parents. But sometimes teaching and reinforcing the empathy needed to relate is needed. Your child might not respond as you expect, being sensitive to touch or cry at a whim, or acting inappropriately towards others. They may avoid face-to-face contact, all together. You will want your child to relate to others such as their peers, their family members as well as yourselves, by developing their empathy. Empathy is understanding and caring what others are feeling. Parents teach this to their children by responding to their needs lovingly from the time they are born.

The key is to teach your child to recognize his feelings for other people and to care for how they feel. For example, using a teachable moment when another child looks upset to say, “See that child’s face? He looks sad. What do you think made him feel that way?” 

Coaching your child to pay attention to people’s facial expressions is one of the first steps in helping them understand others’ perspectives. You should also reinforce the fact that how they treat others matters to you and definitely don’t let rude moments pass. You must teach your child that if someone is unfair to you, it is not right. And explain that calling someone names or not letting them play with you is just as hurtful as hearing.

Above all, have patience with your child, and know that the kindness and compassion that come from you go a long way to teaching them how to relate and understand others.