Empathy? In Denmark, They’re Learning It In School
In 2013 Denmark was ranked the happiest country in the world and nowadays it is still high on the list. This is the country where education and health care are free and regardless of where your home is, you are no more than 52 km away from the sea. Danish people believe in friendship, love, and laughter. The core values that make this country a prosperous place are empathy and compassion.
Across the world, many parents refrain from correcting their children when they are insensitive toward other people’s feelings. In Denmark, on the other hand, people use a strategy to maintain genuine care and love for the human race. They teach their children empathy by using creative methods that help them to learn how to share and understand other people’s feelings. These methods are created to develop children’s abilities to identify feelings they would normally not understand.
The CAT-Kit Program
This program is known as the Cognitive Affective Training Kit and it is developed by Danish psychologists. It is one of the most popular and useful programs in teaching compassion and empathy in Denmark. It consists of interactive, visual, and customizable tools that enable children to efficiently communicate with adults and with other children.
One of the most popular tools in this program is “the Measure” which children use to determine the intensity of their feelings without having to express themselves verbally. This enables them to understand the concept of their own emotions which, in turn, helps them to identify them with other children.
“The Feelings” tool is composed of 100 different expressive faces that show moods in ten different categories – fear, sorrow, love, joy, pride, safety, shame, anger, and disgust. Children use cards showing these moods to describe how they are feeling at the moment.
“The Circles” tools serve to help children describe their relationships with their family and friends. They can also use this tool to express their attachment to their hobbies and interests. Other tools that are part of the CAT-Kit Program are Check-Ins, the Body, the Week, the Wheel, the Year, the Draw, and the Day.
The Step by step Program
This is a mandatory program that requires children to recognize and explain feelings from the facial expressions of pictured children. After being shown cards of other children who could be expressing various emotions, children are required to discuss these emotions without being judgmental or insensitive.
This is one of the most powerful strategies in the Danish education system. This strategy requires grouping children with different weaknesses and strengths. For instance, those who are exceptionally good at certain school subjects are grouped with those who aren’t equally strong in the same areas. This is called co-operative learning, which enables children to motivate each other, as well as learn how to respect each other’s abilities.
Danish schools offer no trophies or prizes for their best students. The aim is to avoid competition among children. The main competition is with oneself, not with others. Instead of boosting their competitive skills, Danish schools focus on improving the talents and skills of children who aren’t equally gifted.
The Mary Foundation
This is an anti-bullying program that includes children between the ages of 3 and 8. They learn about the negative impacts of bullying and the importance of being sensitive to other people’s feelings.
All nations around the world spend billions on various campaigns to make the world a peaceful place, but in fact, the only way to achieve world peace is to start at the base level with little children. Everyone who has committed a violent crime was once an innocent child. So, if every child is taught to be empathetic, the world will become an ideal place. Training children to be empathetic will make them emotionally capable and mentally stable adults.
Source: Family Life Goals