Empathy in young children

With all of the bullying behavior occurring with our young people and acts of violence flooding our news stations and our communities, it leaves one to ask, “Where is the empathy these days?” Doesn’t anyone care for others? It’s definitely a question I have been wrestling with too. This is what led me to write my first children’s book to help children build these skills and teach caregivers how to support empathy’s development. The book is still in its final stages (more to come on this).

Empathy building tip of the day: look for opportunities to point out how others’ have separate thoughts, feelings, likes, and dislikes than your child and validate that it is OK. “I know you like blue best. Look at Aaron, he chose green paint. Let’s ask him what his favorite color is.” Even very young children can begin to realize they are separate from others which is the first step!

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2 comments

  1. Excellent tip. Though empathy can be innate (one of our daughters has been amazingly empathetic since she was a toddler), it can also be taught. Thanks for making this effort. I’m convinced that lack of empathy is at the root of most of society’s ills. When we can understand what another feels, we’re less likely to take an action that might be hurtful.

    • Thanks for the comment. I agree, children definitely have their individual temperaments as well and for some (like your daughter) empathy is innate and is a wonderful strength to have and to build upon for life!

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