Roots of Empathy

Category: Bookbug

Babies: they coo, they gurgle and they’re undeniably cute. Sure, they may cry, and they may make stinky messes, but there is something special about them and the way they depend on people in their world.  Babies may need someone to love them and connect with them in order to help them develop. But have you ever stopped to think what babies can teach us? Thankfully, the Roots of Empathy Programme have—and they’ve got a brilliant project coming to North Lanarkshire.


Action for Children’s Roots of Empathy Programme brings babies into Primary schools as a way of reducing bullying. The baby becomes the tiny teacher. It helps students learn to understand their own feelings.  The research has come back and shown that the school children who participated in the sessions had a significant increase in peer acceptance and a marked decrease in social aggression.


The original programme started in Canada where parents and their baby visit a classroom. The children observe the parents and baby interacting. A trained Roots of Empathy facilitator guides the children to understand the communication between parent and child. They interact with the parent and baby combo and start to understand the baby’s intentions and emotions.


I love the idea of this programme. Babies in school will help with bullying and aggressive behaviour in the short term, but I can’t help but wonder if there will be long term effects down the road. The behaviour the children catch from watching the parents and the baby will stick with them their entire life.  Babies may be helping Primary students cope with their own emotions, but also teaching them skills for life about interacting with others, skills to interact with babies – and these skills will stick with them long after they’re grown up and have their own children. 

To find out more about the Roots of Empathy Programme, please click here