An expert from Iceland: how to encourage mutual respect and empathy?


An expert from Iceland: how to encourage mutual respect and empathy?

Mutual respect, positive attitude and empathy in between employees, children and parents- these are things that could be important in any pre-school.

These are things that are thought about and talked about in the kindergartens “Creakids” (Latvia), “Reykjakot” (Iceland) and “Lærningsverkstadt” (Norway). If we as employees and parents can construct a successful dialogue, the biggest beneficiary is the child.

In regard to positive communication, all of the countries involved in the Nordplus project “Responsible Lifestyle” think similarly. A representative from the Iceland kindergarten Hildur Helga Saevarsdottir says: “We were received with joy and positive attitude in all kindergartens i visited both in Norway and in Latvia. We were always able to observe respectful attitude towards the kids and positive communication in between children and teachers.” It’s the same way how everyone, who visited Iceland, was able to see respectful relationships between teachers and children. All the teachers, who visited Iceland in regards to the project highlighted, how happy people there seemed and that was observable both in respect to the guests and everyone in the kindergarten.”

Talking about developing positive attitude, the representative from the kindergarten in Iceland says: “We always encourage ourselves to talk to the children slowly, carefully and without superiority. We always take that into account and remind ourselves of it.”

Hildur Helga Saevarsdottir highlights that all countries are united in the task of respecting each others rights and opinions. Of course, methods and opinions on how to reach that goal can be different. One of the plans Iceland’s kindergartens have is for the next Christmas to choose a certain topic and a group of society, for example, children, who need the support of those around them, and to help this group, while involving the children of the kindergarten.


Helping others starts with helping those around you day to day – in your kindergarten and in your class. For example, if a child has lost something, everyone can go and help him or her look for it. If by accident a pencil case has fallen over, we can all help to pick up the pencils and put them in the right place. While saying “thank you” and “you’re welcome” let’s remember that we have to look the other person in the eyes and we have to greet each other and say goodbye, when we enter and exit a room.

We can highlight the difference between being kind and being mean by playing games. For this we can use a mirror and encourage kids to look into it with a smiling face, and after that – with an angry or dissatisfied face. After that you can pose a question – with which person would you want to be friends with and start a conversation?

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