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How parents can help their children develop empathy

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Edifa - published on 11/13/20

It is one of the most important things we can help kids develop.

Empathy is the attitude of understanding what another person is feeling. It is a heart that rejoices when another person feels good and is saddened when another person cries. This attitude of the heart is the opposite of what many young people experience: mistrust, indifference, envy. Empathy is a rescuer and allows me to see the other person not as predator, but as someone who is my “fellow man,” a brother or sister. A father or mother, like an orchestra conductor, will allow each child to play their own part but, above all, will guide the way for the song to be played in harmony.

Showing our weaknesses helps others learn to become more humane

It is up to parents to verbalize their recognition — not false flattery — of the multiple and varied qualities of each child. It is also their responsibility to discreetly point out their weaknesses, not merely to identify the negative, but to make each member feel in charge of, and responsible for, the growth of everyone in the group. “I can help you with something just as you can help me with something.”

We are no longer indifferent to each other, placed here by chance, but chosen by God to grow together in truth. It is up to parents to teach their children to see others and allow them to be just as they are, with their own special qualities, weaknesses and limitations. Harmony is experienced in a family when the most competent person is at the service of the person who does not understand. This implies investing time in the other, asking them questions, it implies living together—not merely next to each other.

It is also up to the parents to make the children see that showing their own weaknesses is a way to help others learn to become more humane. It is the dependence and simplicity of the little ones that make the hearts of the older ones grow; it is the serious illness of one that opens the heart of the other to suffering and develops their ability to help.

Without these experiences within the family, a person can easily become trapped by a desire for power that leads them to harm others. Let us strive to feel empathy for those weakest among us!

Inès de Franclieu


Read more:
6 Things you can say to help your child develop empathy

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