Must-have skill for children #13: Perspective taking

“Perspective taking” is the ability to see or feel something from another person’s point of view. Without the ability to understand different perspectives, your child won’t be able to connect with people. Without the ability to connect with people, your child may face more obstacles than they pass. That is why this month’s Must-Have Skill for Children is perspective taking.

The skill of perspective taking is an important component of empathy, which every child needs to build good relationships and be active in any community. Empathy enables your child to manage other people’s emotional reactions and resolve arguments or differences, otherwise known as conflict resolution. This improves not only their social life but also their future career success as various studies show empathy can boost business creativity as well as negotiation and leadership skills.

There are many different ways your child can work on their perspective taking to become empathetic and successful.

Properly Engage in a Social Setting

Your child can improve their perspective-taking skill by practicing in a social setting. They should try to react less instantly and listen more carefully. They can practice asking for more details as well as repeating the other person’s thoughts and feelings back to them for confirmation. If they hone these active listening skills, they can better understand where the other person is coming from. The more they do this the more they will be able to understand different viewpoints and react appropriately. This will stop them from jumping to conclusions, making assumptions, or causing misunderstandings while introducing them to different life experiences, thoughts, and ideas.

Imagine and Read Books

They should also engage in quiet times when they can let their imagination go wild. They can imagine themselves in different situations or as different people. Reading more books can improve their imagination because they plop them into other people’s shoes—however, your child can use some encouragement.  Here’s how you can help: expose them to as many different perspectives as possible. You can do this by encouraging them to read books about diverse people and situations. It is natural for your child to want to read about characters to whom they relate, but it’s important that they expand their horizons and read about characters to whom they don’t immediately feel a connection, whether it’s because they are of a different race, gender, culture, family, or socioeconomic background. While other mediums, like movies, can also help, books are best for inserting your child directly into the minds of the characters.

Have New Experiences

You can also introduce them to novel experiences, like volunteering at a shelter, becoming pen pals with a peer in another country, or visiting a school in a different residential area (i.e., if you live in the suburb, visit a school in the city). You can also explain other people’s perspectives. This can be through a personal experience, like when your child gets into a fight. In this case, you could stir up compassion by talking about how the person they are fighting with must feel. Guide them with questions like, “How does that make you feel?” “How do you think that makes them feel?” and, “What can you do differently next time?” This can also be through observation, like when you are out with your child and you see somebody’s car break down. You can make comments like, “Oh no, that poor person must be having a hard time…” Eventually, your child will make such observations on their own.

You don’t have to go about this alone—we at JEI can help! A research study shows that improving children’s language development and skills can improve their perspective-taking skills. We offer programs like JEI English and JEI Reading & Writing to help with this, and we are always developing more programs and resources to address every child’s specific needs.

On top of that, our programs are aligned with State Standards, but they place greater emphasis on our students’ Emotional Quotient than most schools can with their large classrooms. Our focus on Emotional Quotient means we help students understand others, communicate efficiently, handle challenges, and, yes, take on new perspectives.

We can answer all of your questions and start your child with a Diagnostic Test to gauge their current skill levels. Simply pick up your phone and call us today at (877) JEI-MATH.