Hi everyone! I’m Mandy Bush and I am the online business manager for Cardinal Rule Press (Maria’s publishing company). I am a mother of 2 (son and daughter) and I will be blogging this month on Be the Difference and will be recapping some valuable tips from Maria’s new show, Empowering Kids With Character – The Show!

Empathy in 3 Easy Steps - mariadismondy.com

On March 1, Maria shared 3 easy steps to explain empathy to our children. You can watch the full video here.

Maria explained how she has taught her children empathy, using “try, say, do”. I was amazed at how easy it is to explain empathy, when using this method (she advised she learned this years ago, while teaching, but can not remember who to give credit to for this method)!

You hold up your hands and say the following while doing the associated motions:

  • TRY (right thumb up)
  • SAY (left thumb up)
  • DO (clap hands together)

Next, you want to explain the method to your children!


TRY to understand how someone is feeling – Imagine that you and your sibling are going to the doctor.Your sibling is getting a shot, but not you. Put yourself in your sibling’s shoes – how is she feeling? Scared, anxious, nervous? Try to understand her current feelings.

SAY something– Acknowledge the person’s feelings. For example: “Hey sis, you must be scared.” Acknowledging her feelings will help make her feel heard and understood.

DO something – This is the hardest part. We, as parents, need to model this and practice often. No more talking. Now is the time to DO something. You’ve tried to understand what they are feeling and you’ve verbally acknowledge these feelings. Now you DO something to offer kindness and friendship. What could you do for your sister who’s getting a shot? You could hold her hand, rub your sister’s back or bring her favorite stuffed animal.

There you have it! You were just able to EASILY explain how empathy works to your child. The best part is that this doesn’t have to be a one-time lesson (and shouldn’t be! I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes me a few lessons before I catch onto something ?). You can do this often throughout the day, showing them all the ways that you can empathize with others (even strangers!).

Maria shared another example that you can show your school-age children:

It’s recess time and a boy runs up to some kids who are playing soccer.He asks if he can play and they tell him he can’t, there’s too many people and they don’t want to play with him. Time for “try, say, do”!

TRY to understand how he’s feeling – left out?Alienated?Upset?

SAYwhat you see. For example, “Hey buddy, you must be feeling left out and sad.” Acknowledge their feelings.

Finally, take action and DOsomething WITHOUT talking. How can you offer kindness and friendship? You could wave them over, inviting them to play or kick the ball to them. Just be a friend!

This was eye-opening for me, how about you? Too often I can TRY to imagine what someone is going through and I will SAY something to them, but I usually stop there! I don’t DO something (without words!). I try to just fix how they’re feeling with my words. We need to ACT on what we’re seeing! Remember the old saying – “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”. Hmmm…

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