Teaching Children Empathy over Competition?

Teaching Children Empathy over Competition?

What do you think, is showing empathy more important than being very competitive?

And what is the parent’s role in helping children that become over anxious?

Can a competitive environment cause great anxiety in children?

If you go to the link below, maybe you’ll be able to find some interesting articles about the raising of children.



16 thoughts on “Teaching Children Empathy over Competition?

  1. Yes, Uta, I read that article and agreed with the author. Pitting children against each other is not helpful. Nor does the obsession with making ‘winners’ out of children at the cost of empathy and understanding differences. This is were Australian upbringing both at schools and at home differs greatly from other countries.

  2. Well, since I have no kids, nor will I have kids, I will pass on the article, but I can’t help thinking that in a world of ultra-winner-takes-all competition at all levels, a swing back to empathy is in high order. Empathy on all levels, crib to grave.

    1. This is what it says in this article: “…. According to the World Happiness Index, the Danes are among the happiest people in the world and it’s been that way for more than four decades.

      The Danes do not prescribe to a me-versus-you culture. After much questioning and a day in a classroom, I discovered it starts at primary school.

      Their curriculum focuses strongly on the “whole” child, not just their sporting or academic achievements. Entire subjects are dedicated to teaching empathy, mutual respect and social cohesion over competitiveness.

      On the contrary, the smartest kids become the teacher’s aides, helping other kids, who are finding things more challenging in the class, to better understand.

      Former mayor for child and youth services in Copenhagen Pia Allerslev and Mette Broegard, a primary school teacher-turned-principal, told me how Danish teachers spend those early school years teaching children how to develop their internal (emotional) compass, focusing on subjects like socialisation, autonomy, critical thinking and self-esteem. . . .”

      I reckon the Danes seem to be good educators, and this is what is needed in our world! 🙂

      1. The Danes also have a bang up social system which pays for education, medical care, and equalizes the playing field in so many ways. No wonder they are such a joyous bunch. 😉

    1. Isn’t it mostly a cultural thing? What you describe, Carolyn, definitely would be a culture I’d like to live in. But does it work like that in all countries? Well, it would be nice. 🙂
      Hugs, Uta 🙂

      1. Carolyn, I reckon if the school policy is to teach empathy, this goes a long way. Mostly small children can be taught this quite well. However when we stress competition. competition, competition, then we end up with a very competitive society and not enough people willing to show empathy. I for instance believe in the good of people, but it has to be promoted somehow . . .

    1. Hi, Patchworkmomma, thank you for the link!

      I found in YoyTube this short clip where the Dalai Lama gives advice to a child:


      I noticed, in that article that you refer to, the Dalai Lama says:

      “. . . Ethics, as opposed to religion, are grounded in human nature. Through ethics, we can work on preserving creation. Empathy is the basis of human coexistence. It is my belief that human development relies on cooperation, not competition. Science tells us this. . . .”

      This sounds about right to me, that empathy is the basis of human coexistance and that human development relies on cooperation, not competition!

      1. Funnily enough, I posted that same video clip on Facebook a few weeks ago because it really resonated with me. 🙂

        It’s interesting that the Dalai Lama thinks that humans are inherently good. He says,
        “I see with ever greater clarity that our spiritual well-being depends not on religion, but on our innate human nature — our natural affinity for goodness, compassion and caring for others. Regardless of whether we belong to a religion, we all have a fundamental and profoundly human wellspring of ethics within ourselves. We need to nurture that shared ethical basis.”

        By that logic, it seems we are born empathetic and need to preserve that instinct, while curbing society’s pressure to complete with one another.

  3. Hello, and thank you for your perspective. I am sharing from a different perspective: one who has coached. I taught my groups skills and strategy. At the end of each game, they were to high five the members of the other team. If the other team one, they were to say “good game.” But our intents was always to win the next game, learning what they were doing. I would go to opponents’ games to observe and learn, then adjust our practices to give us a better opportunity. The focus, for me as a coach, was to instill hard work and determination. Improving was always the bar, but winning was our goal. Why winning? Because competition raises the bar of effort, and team work is required. One player doesn’t do it all. They look to each other, each person developing (some to their best), and work hard to achieve goals. If a player wasn’t showing their best, and I had others, I would replace them for one who was ready to give their best. In this way, they learn a lesson of life, that hard work, team work, and pushing yourself will bring results which is required to achieve levels of higher achievements. Having said that, when the other team lost, I explained not to mock the other team, but high five and encourage them for the next game. If they get better, then we’ll have to work harder and get better too, for we want to win. But after each game, we are all friends again.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dolphinwrite. Of course, team work is very important. It is very good when you help everyone to do their best. I am sure you are a very good coach. Keep up the good work!

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