Cultivating empathy can go through the body: putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, cooperating, showing solidarity by playing and getting in motion are possible from 5/6 years old.
These 4 game ideas are inspired by Omar Zanna, sociologist and author of The body in relation to others .
1. A meditative time of emotional warm-up
Children are asked to lie down freely for 5-10 minutes. Each child can choose their position (on their stomach, on their back, on their side…). With their eyes closed, they are instructed to concentrate on the areas where they feel discomfort, pain (tingling, tingling, a scratch…). They are invited to observe these sensations, what this generates as thoughts, as desires, as impulses, without trying to control their thoughts, just letting them pass.
The goal is to help children become able to listen to their bodies. At first, the children may be embarrassed, snicker, open their eyes and then, as the sessions progress, they will be able to become more calm and concentrated.
It is possible to vary the instructions to bring the children to their full attention:
The three players who hold a position can call the joker but none can call for himself: the members of the team will have to be attentive to each other in order to detect the signs of weakness which announce the difficulty experienced by a of the three players in place (smiles, grimaces, gasps, blushes, trembling muscles…) and call the joker to take the place of the member in difficulty. The joker must also be attentive to his teammates to anticipate a request for help and offer to relieve the member of the team about to fail.
The group that holds all the positions the longest wins (we can even eliminate any spirit of competition in this afk tier gaming by setting a duration to be reached or by encouraging each team to improve its duration from one round to another).
Depending on the age of the players and their familiarity with this game, we can offer more or less complex starting positions. We can also introduce innings at the start where players can call the joker for themselves.
A reflective moment at the end of the game makes it possible to raise awareness of the achievements targeted by this game:
3. A game of decoding the intentions and emotions of the other
In this pain mime game, the children are in pairs. One mimics a pain or an unpleasant sensation (at the start of the game, this can be an easily identifiable physical pain such as a knee injury, then the mime can become more complex to relate only to emotions such as those of mourning). The other is in front of him and is instructed to guess and then imitate what the other is feeling.
The first child therefore puts himself in the scene by letting his pain/emotion be guessed, then the second child comes to mime the attitude in the same way as if to “take” the pain. The first then places himself in front of the second child who will be able to imitate another pain of his choice in turn (and so on).