Perspective Taking

Discover the skills that every child needs.

Perspective Taking

Discover the skills that every child needs.

What is Perspective Taking?

Perspective Taking goes far beyond empathy: it involves seeing things as others would see them: their likes, dislikes, feelings and thoughts. It involves executive function skills, including remembering how others might respond (working memory); inhibiting our thoughts to understand the perspectives of others (inhibitory control); viewing situations in different ways (cognitive flexibility); and considering the thoughts and feelings of others (reflection).

Perspective Taking emerges in children over time but needs to be encouraged. Children with perspective taking skills are more likely to adjust better to school, to understand what they are learning through reading and writing and to build positive relationships with less conflict.

Promoting Perspective Taking

Here are some research-based ways to help improve children’s Perspective Taking:

Everyday Routines

  • Throughout the day, encourage children to talk about their thoughts and feelings and recognize how these differ from what others might think and feel—they are practicing perspective taking!

Playful Learning Activities

  • When reading or storytelling, ask children open-ended questions about a character like, “How do you think she feels? Why do you think she feels this way?” so they can understand the character’s perspective.
  • Encourage children to express thoughts and feelings through acting out stories, telling stories, making art or dancing.

Learning Strategies

  • Support children in listening to others describe their thoughts and feelings about a shared experience.
  • Help children learn to use words to express their own feelings and to use this strategy instead of acting out physically.
  • Brainstorm ways to solve a conflict with another child, with the help of an adult.

Ultimately what matters is that we not only discover how the child’s brain and mind work but also  that we use that incredible knowledge to enable the greatness of every child in the world.

Patricia Kuhl

University of Washington

Get More Tools & Resources to Build This Skill

Skill-Building Book Tips

These free, downloadable resources offer tips for building the Seven Essential Life Skills based on classic and diverse children’s books that promote the skills. Designed for three age groups, infants and toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age, Book Tips are available in English and Spanish.

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Skill-Building Opportunities

Picky Eating, Bedtime Fears, Meltdowns, Constant Crying, Sibling Rivalry! We’ve researched the questions families and teachers most frequently ask and created short free guides, available in English and Spanish, for professionals and families to help turn common behavioral issues into opportunities to promote critical life skills in children.

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