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What is empathy?
Empathy is the state of our humanity, the core of morality. It's the ability to empathize with someone else's situation. It is nothing but receiving her emotions and experiencing them in a similar way. It is the ability to look at a specific situation through the eyes of another person and understand their attitudes and behaviors. Empathy is NOT synonymous with sympathy, pity or compassion. This is a trait that is closely related to personal culture and well-understood sensitivity. Is essential when building relationships with another person.
Do you want your child to have friends, in the future to bond with another person in a mature way, to be able to find themselves in every situation? Or do you want it to go through life hard, without compromise, but alone?
Empathy - are we born with her?
Each of us is born with some empathy that allows us to survive. However, some of them have better education, others less. This is where the differences in the perception of individuals come from - some immediately seem friendly to us, we have the impression that they understand us well, others are perceived as cold and inaccessible. Psychologists have long noticed that we especially like those who understand us, are able to listen and comfort us.
The difference in feelings of empathy can already be seen in children. In kindergarten, when one toddler cries, it happens that the other child tries to comfort him. Other preschoolers do not see the problem, others when they see the tears of another toddler come up and turn on their heels ...
Of course, empathy is not everything, not only it decides about our attitude to the environment. However, it has an original impact on how others perceive us. Studies have shown that people with a well-established self accepting themselves have greater empathic abilities. In contrast, people with low self-esteem, who in childhood met with a lack of love, acceptance, understanding do not see the emotions of other people, focus on themselves and their own lives, they can not go beyond that.
Empathy makes it easier to make contacts, makes the child cope better in the group, make friends faster, gain respect for themselves and others. Scientists have long noticed that empathic children learn better (although this feature is not directly related to IQ), and in adulthood they achieve professional success more often.
That is why it is worth supporting children so that they can find empathy in themselves. Lack of empathy is a lack of tenderness, it is the inability to find yourself in a group and in difficult situations. Empathy is necessary in the development of emotional intelligence. Is the biggest brake on aggressive behavior. In addition, empathy gives a sense of sense, fulfillment, faith that one lives in a good world in which one can help and count on the support of another person
Empathy at different periods of life
Although babies they often cry when another child also sheds tears, but this behavior is not due to empathy, but rather fear and confusion. Toddlers until the end of their second life are strongly focused on themselves, self-centered, and at the same time open to experimenting. They don't really see the difference between pulling a cat by the tail and a teddy bear by the handle. They don't understand that a pet can hurt. At around 1-1.5 years of age, the first behaviors show empathy - the child begins to "feed" the teddy bear, "put to sleep" dolls, etc.
At the age of 2-4 years the child is still strongly focused on himself, he needs to immediately meet his needs, regardless of the desires of other people. On the other hand, he is increasingly noticing the reactions of the environment. He likes to help and feel needed. He sometimes covers his mother with a blanket or shares a sandwich with a loved one. When he sees a lot of empathic behaviors and attitudes around him, he tries to behave similarly, although he is still strongly focused on his inner self.
Between 4 and 6 years old most children begin to see and understand relationships between people and learn how to build them and what affects them. He understands well that hitting someone hurts, that bad words also have a lot of power. He knows the effect of sharing a toy and what will happen when he unexpectedly takes the other person's favorite thing. Still, the child builds his behavior on a not fully conscious plane. He does not yet fully understand the importance of empathy.
Between 6 and 11 years old it is a time when children are already aware of the relationship between social contacts. They also know how to behave to make others happy, they can also be cruel. However, if they obtain favorable conditions, the support and help of their loved ones willingly help others and do not remain deaf to signals from the environment.
How to teach a child empathy?
Supporting empathy in a child should be done in passing. On the occasion of daily activities:
- let us not be afraid to say what hurts us, our parents, what makes us happy, what we are proud of, and of which we are not satisfied.
- let's show the child that we understand his feelings. Let's not deny them. When we hit, let's not say, "It doesn't hurt at all. Don't cry anymore, "rather," Oh, you hit yourself ... You probably hurt, but it will stop soon. "
- reading books together - it's a great way to empathize with other characters - it's worth asking your child - how do you think the hero of the book feels when ...
- "I am you" fun - you can imagine for a moment what it is like to be someone else - mother, dad, aunt, blind person, riding a wheelchair - the child usually very willingly takes part in such fun, and this form of entertainment allows him to realize that everyone is different and his perception of the world does not have to match the perspective of the other person.
- it is worth showing your child where help is indicated and when it is a form of abuse. This is a very sensitive issue, but over time, as your child grows up, it's also worth sensitizing to it.
- it is worth teaching your child how to apologize, even when the harm was caused by accident and in a situation where we did not expect that our behavior could offend someone.
- the child learns by imitation - that's why we show our respect for the elderly, the sick, and "others". Let us try to help others become the norm in our home, and not to act "from time to time" to satisfy our conscience.