Empathy Building


Empathy is the ability to imagine how someone else is feeling in a particular situation and respond with care. This is a very complex skill to develop. Feeling someone else's pain is unpleasant, so it shouldn't surprise you if a child's first impulse is to shrink away. It's a natural, self-protective reaction. Empathy isn't something that develops automatically, without input from the environment. Things like personal experience, culture, and parenting matter. Being able to empathize with another person means that your child understands that others can have different thoughts and feelings than he/her has, and that they can recognize the common feelings that most people experience like happiness, surprise, anger, disappointment, and sadness.  Here are a few tips on how to cultivate empathy in your child:

  • Read stories about feelings.
  • Be a role model.
  • Validate your child’s difficult emotions. Sometimes when our child is sad, angry, or disappointed, we rush to try and fix it right away. Instead of doing that tell them that you understand how they feel, acknowledge their emotions. This type of approach also helps children learn to empathize with others who are experiencing difficult feelings.
  • Be patient. Developing empathy takes time.

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