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, from hunger and sleepiness to happiness and fear.
Empathy is essential to success in life. Researchers have found that having empathy fosters emotional well-being, positive relationships with others, success in school and work, less bullying and aggression, and improved physical health.
Science has also shown just how influential you are in helping develop your child’s sense of empathy. You can model empathy through the way you respond to your child’s emotions and experiences. Not surprisingly, children whose parents model empathy are more likely to demonstrate empathy.