How Easter eggs can help build empathy

Mother talking to two daughters outide

- Written by Jono Nicholas, CEO of ReachOut

For the last few weeks supermarket shopping has been one of my kids’ favourite activities. From their point of view, the supermarket has been an endless opportunity to examine which chocolate eggs they want from the Easter bunny and bug me to buy hot cross buns.

For many Australian families like mine, religion is not central to our daily lives and as a result, holidays like Easter, can lose their meaning. The fact is, irrespective of your beliefs, religion has a strong impact on the world our kids grow up in. Teaching them about religion (even if you don’t follow a religious teaching) can help them understand everything from important historical events, to how our calendar works, to why some wars start and stop. Importantly, it can also help them build empathy and understanding for other peoples’ beliefs.

Teaching your kids about the history behind religious dates is often a great place to start. For many, this can be fascinating and help them understand how the world works. Exploring questions like why the egg is the symbol of Easter or why Passover and Easter occur at the same time can help them find a deeper meaning behind something they may take for granted. If you don’t know some of these answers yourself, a few quick google searches can get them (and you) on the right track.

Easter also creates a great opportunity to talk to your kids about the values behind religious holidays. Almost all ask us to reflect on important values like compassion, generosity and forgiveness. Teaching our kids that these same values are central to other religious observances like Ramadan or Yom Kippur can increase their empathy and understanding of all religions, and help them understand the significant role that religion plays in many people’s lives.

For my kids, today will be an exciting day where they get to break a golden rule in our house and eat chocolate for breakfast. While I want them to have fun and celebrate, I also want them to learn that today is a significant day for a lot of people. Taking the time to talk to them about the meaning of Easter, is just one way in which I can help them understand the world around them and hopefully raise kids that are curious and tolerant of those with other beliefs.