Empathy | Day Fourteen

I think women especially search for empathy. Someone to listen to our plight and say -- “yes, that sounds very hard...you’re at a tough place in life right now”. Someone who cares.

But really it’s sought after across the board -- fathers at work, mothers at home, children at play, all struggle at times and search for someone who understands and will squeeze their shoulder and say “I know, it’s hard.”

Children who are aware of the feelings of others are happy children. Because their friends like them. Their teachers appreciate them.

The first step to teaching empathy is modeling it yourself as a parent. When your child feels sufficiently sympathized with and cared for emotionally, they are more likely to do the same for others. These children will have a higher “emotional intelligence” {more on that to come} and are very aware of their own feelings and clued in to others' emotional needs.

“How do you think your brother is feeling right now?”
“Does the look on his face mean he is hurt or angry?”

When you see empathy, point it out and offer specific praise:
“You saw that she was feeling sad and left out and you brought her a toy and encouraged her to play with you. That was very perceptive and kind of you.”

When Peter was getting ready to go to preschool for the first time, we talked about the other kids and how they were probably going to feel nervous and worried about being dropped off, just like him. We discussed how some of the other children didn’t have mommies that stayed home with them all day, that some of them had to work. Not only did this provide him with a bigger picture, it also gave him a reason to empathize with others. It took the focus off his worry and onto someone else’s feelings, who he could potentially help.

Happy kids know how to stand in another person’s shoes.

Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series, 31 Days to Happier Children.