Empathy opens the door to understanding others
January 4th, 2013
by Katrina Brooke
You hold the door for your spouse, and your children are watching.
A child at the grocery store drops his toy, and his mother has her hands full, so you bend to pick it up and offer it to the child. And your children are watching.
It’s a snowy morning, and your older neighbor is struggling to clear the driveway to get to work. So you and your son grab shovels and help her.
Your daughter is waiting at the bus stop with her friends. When the bus arrives, the kids start to climb aboard, but one girl drops her backpack and books spill out onto the ground. Although she was almost ready to get on the bus, your daughter goes back to help her friend. They pick up the books and laugh, and climb aboard the bus.
Watching children develop empathy for others is such a delight., appreciating differences, noticing, and caring Empathy opens the door to understanding others. It is the antithesis of self-serving, whiny, and narcissistic behaviors. Daniel Goleman calls empathy “the foundation of all emotional intelligence.”
Empathy is noticing how another person is feeling, and for a moment standing in his or her shoes. It requires a calm and caring state of mind, and is a step that precedes service to others. In our busy lives, it is sometimes difficult to let go of our own pressing worries and consider the perspective of another.
Helping our children develop the capacity for empathy is one of the great gifts we can offer them. In Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy, children can learn directly how to use empathy in their lives.
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