Learning with Clifford the Big Red Dog: Empathy

Guest Blogger  //  Apr 28, 2021

Learning with Clifford the Big Red Dog: Empathy

From the Scholastic Entertainment team.

For decades, Clifford the Big Red Dog has taught us many lessons that we can share with our families and friends. Now, with the help of Clifford The Big Red Dog adventures on Amazon Prime Video and PBS KIDS, everyone’s favorite big red dog is teaching us how we can learn more about ourselves through our emotions.

Up next, empathy!

When we are empathetic, we do our best to understand and share the feelings of our friends and family members. We practice empathy by being present and reassuring others that they are not alone during hard times. 

Empathy can be a difficult concept to explain, but Clifford is here to lead the way with his own examples!

In the episode, “Red Beard the Pirate,” Clifford, Emily Elizabeth, and their scurvy crew spend the whole day playing pirates and burying treasure around Birdwell Island. After a successful day of pirating, Tucker realizes that he has lost his favorite squeaky toy – Lil Squeakie! Even though Clifford didn’t lose a special toy of his own, he empathizes with Tucker – understanding that Tucker must feel sad, anxious, and upset. Clifford practices empathy by imagining how Tucker must feel in this moment and responding with care by vowing to find Tucker’s toy! Rather than offering to replace Tucker’s toy with another, or simply accepting the fact that Lil Squeakie is lost, Clifford and Emily Elizabeth use their treasure map to uncover the lost toy in time for Tucker’s bedtime. Join Clifford in supporting Tucker and showing empathy to his friend here:

We practice empathy any time we put ourselves into someone else’s shoes and try to imagine what they might be thinking or how they might be feeling. When we feel sympathy and concern for someone who is experiencing sadness or distress, we reinforce that our feelings might be different than those of another – but that doesn’t make how someone else is feeling wrong. Wanting to help a friend is a great step in practicing empathy – and doing so in a clever, creative, and sincere way is a best practice for empathizing with another and cheering them up!

This idea is showcased in the episode “Bailey’s Starry Night!” when Bailey must spend her first night ever away from Samantha. Although Bailey loves to play at Clifford’s house, she is afraid for her first sleepover. While Clifford isn’t spending the night away from Emily Elizabeth, he understands how Bailey must be feeling and asks Emily Elizabeth to read them a story about astronauts to cheer Bailey up! Clifford may not be able to bring Samantha back for the night, but he can show empathy by doing all he can to brighten Bailey’s day – and proposes a mission to the moon (led by Commander Bailey, of course!) to get her mind off of how much she misses Sam. By empathizing with the feelings of someone other than himself, Clifford is able to suggest a fun adventure that cheers Bailey up in a creative and out-of-this-world way. Join Commander Bailey on her mission to the moon:

As a caring best friend and highly empathetic character, Clifford gives us many BIG examples of how to recognize, understand, and react to the feelings of those around us.

For more stories on empathy, check out the Scholastic Bookshelf:

Watch Clifford The Big Red Dog now on Amazon Prime Video and PBS KIDS! Learn more by checking out our previous posts on how the show teaches little ones about: curiosity and confidence.