An important aspect of socio-emotional development is empathy. Empathy is demonstrated when a person feels concern and/or wants to assist someone who may need support. When you understand and share in another person’s experiences and feelings, you are able to develop strong bonds and develop meaningful relationships with other people. During this topic, students will work on identifying/understanding situations where empathy is appropriately expressed. Students will also practice their own expressions of empathy. This topic is suggested to be targeted for three weeks. Below, you will find a suggested sequence to follow.
Students and clinician view a peer-mentored video titled, “My Friend and His Scooter.” After viewing this video, the clinician and student engage in discussion with questions. Questions may include, “What went right? What went wrong? What could have been done instead? Let’s role play this scenario correctly.”
Next, students will be visually bombarded with facial expressions that depict empathetic reactions. For example, faces may be disappointed or supportive. It is important we are able to read each other’s faces in order to offer verbal support as well as offer support in our facial expressions.
Practice perspective taking skills. Students are asked to pretend to be the actor and say what they’re thinking. For example, seeing a video of a girl who is sad, students say, “I’m so sad because I miss my friend”. Note: this video is silent.
Now it is time to practice facial expressions. Using a camera, smartphone, and/or mirror, have students practice how they would show empathy by being supportive to someone who is disappointed. Focus in on eyebrow movement and the corners of the mouth. Take selfies with the student and show how you would demonstrate empathy.
Students and clinician view a practice videos titled, “Broken Toy” and “Juice”. After viewing these practice videos, the clinician and student will engage in discussion with questions. First, we focus on the interpretation of emotions. Next, we focus on how to support these emotions (i.e., supportive look or comments). Questions may include, “What could you do to offer support? What went right? What went wrong? What could have been done instead? Let’s role play this scenario correctly.”
Note: It can be very helpful to video tape students when role playing and then have students watch and rate themselves.