If you’ve never been in a hurricane, never walked up on your house half under water, you don’t know what it must feel like to see that sort of destruction. If you’ve never lost a loved one, you don’t know the feeling of the heartbreaking pain associated with grief. If you’ve never struggled with infertility, you don’t know the emptiness and longing.
Although you don’t know the feelings of the situations above, you still have the ability to empathize with them. You have the ability to imagine what it’s like and how it feels. You have the ability to act in such a way it appears you do in fact understand them.
We need to implement this skill with our children to help them feel supported. There will be many times we do not understand the feelings our children are feeling. We don’t quite understand why the broken cookie is making them sob, but we can empathize. We can explain how we are sad when things break, too. A broken cookie is such a simple example, but we will need to employ our empathy skills over and over again as our children grow.
Empathy is a skill learned through experience. When we are empathetic to our children, they will learn to be empathetic to others. When we are empathetic with our children, we are bonding by sharing a mutual understanding of feelings. When we feel understood by someone, we will naturally grow closer to them.
Showing our children empathy should be a daily task from the little things to the big situations. Be a daily support to your child by recognizing their feelings and showing empathy.