Parenting Guide

Parenting Guide

Teaching Empathy

Simple Ways to Nourish a Cherished Quality

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”


  • What is Empathy?

    You’ve probably heard the expression, “Try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.” That’s empathy—the ability to understand and share another’s emotional experience, while setting aside one’s own thoughts and feelings. The development of empathy begins at birth. It grows over time as your child experiences all the different emotions and feelings that come with life,…

  • How to Foster Empathy: Step In, Step Out

    • Step In: Put yourself in your child’s shoes by carefully listening to your child’s needs and feelings. Ask your child empathetic questions about her experience. Understand your child’s experience from her perspective. • Balance: Recognize the feelings that your child is experiencing and what those feelings evoke within you. Too much empathy or sharing…

  • Example of Modeling Empathy

    Jake, a two-year-old in daycare, says, “No one play with me!” Jake’s mother becomes anxious because she was a lonely child. She feels guilty about working, but finally decides to talk to Jake’s caregiver and spend some time watching Jake in his daycare setting. In a soft, caring voice, Jake’s mother discusses Jake’s feelings with…

  • Resources for Further Reading

    Eisenberg, N. (2000). Empathy and sympathy. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland-Jones (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (2nd ed.) (pp. 677-691). New York, NY: Guilford Press. Goleman, D. (2006). Social intelligence: The new science of human relationships. New York, NY: Bantam Dell. Hoffman, M. L. (2001). Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice.…

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