#RaisingBrilliance: Teaching Your Children Empathy Can Make Them Better Students

A few weeks ago, as I was helping my kids get ready for bed, my son asked me a simple, silly question: “Mommy, can blind people talk?”

“Yes,” I said slowly. “Why do you ask?”

“I mean…can they ask questions?”

I realized then that my son assumed if people couldn’t see, they wouldn’t know if other people were standing nearby to be able to talk to them.

So I turned to Mommy’s best friend aka YouTube and pulled up a few videos about blind people so my son (and later, my daughter, when she came into the room) could see what life is like for the visually impaired. I found a ton of videos from Tommy Edison, a man who has been blind since birth. His videos are hilarious and they answer almost every question you could have about blindness, including some I didn’t think to ask (like, what do blind people dream about?).

His videos are great at showing the connection between sighted people and visually impaired people. His main point is that we are all the same! Blind people like to watch movies, they go to baseball games, they go out the dinner with friends, they like to cook!

We must have sat there and watched close to an hour of videos. During each video I’d pause it and ask my kids if they had ever considered what life would be like if they had to ____ with no vision. Take this video for instance:

My children take for granted that whole “look both ways” directive and didn’t stop to think of a blind man walking by himself. I could see the recognition wash over both of them as they realized that many people navigate the world differently than they do. It’s not about pity, but rather, looking at situations from another person’s perspective. I want my children to be able to not just see differences between themselves and others, but understand how those differences are worth celebrating and make us all better for having them.

So tell me – how do you teach your children empathy?