Monday, April 26, 2010

Now How Does That Make You Feel : Empathy vs. Sympathy

After Follow Friday was a positive for me, I visited several of the websites that followed me. Which was quite fun and amusing, I was visiting Take a Mom's Word for It at and I came across a question submitted by one of her followers.. the question submitted was "my little girl who is 5 does not know how to be sympathetic to other kids when they get hurt anyone have any suggestions thanks" I thought about this and realized that this was a common questions I received from concern parents.

Sympathy is a great emotions as it allows others to associate with other living things, often relating, which in turn can help the thing your associating with. For an example. A young man, that you do not know, named John fall and hurt himself while playing on the playground. You watched John fall and hurt himself and recall you fell three months ago (touching your arm in the spot that is healed now). John gets up crying and you feel sad suddenly and is concerned about John's wellbeing. You walk over to help John and see if he is ok. That feeling of sadness and concern you have for John is what we want our children to possess, so that they can be an asset to our community. However, this emotion will not come for a while. Sympathy is what I term a "graduate emotion." A graduate emotion is an emotion that evolves or graduates from a lesser one or group of emotions that the person masters.

Parents must first teach their child(ren) how to be empathetic before they can learn to be sympathetic. Empathy is the art of projection. The person uses their imagination and projects the object's (feelings) onto themselves and emerges with it. This is taught by the parent when we discuss feelings with the child and how they should feel. An example of this is: how often we say to our child " how would you feel if this happened to you" or "See that little boy's face, how do you think he feels?" This is done with every opportunity the child have with the parent and in different scenarios and situation. The parent will know when empathy have graduated to sympathy as the child will demonstrate sympathy around you. Often sharing emotions with other living things.

Some ways to teach empathy:

1. As suggested by Kady at Take a Mom's Word for It, reading books. It is always great to read to the child. This promotes bonding, is a conversation starter and demonstrates a value in education
2. When the child watches Television, talk about the shows with the child while watching also. Time together helps build bonding
3. Demonstrate empathy yourself, children learn more form our actions than or words
4. Praise wanted behaviors from the child, when empathy is demonstrated engage the child and have them explain their feelings.

These are just a few tips for teaching the child empathy. If you know any more please feel free to leave a comment.


Denise said...

Stopping by from Friday Follow to say Hi! I am now a follower!

Stop by and enter my giveaway for Rachael Ray Bakeware:

Kady L. said...

Thanks for this post!! I'm sure my reader who asked it will find it helpful!


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