I watched the little man play with a bug in the bath last night. Once he was finished playing with it and forgot about the poor creature, he kicked it to death before I could rescue it.
This made me realise that the friend who told me human beings had to learn empathy and that it wasn’t our natural state, was correct.
According to Psychcentral you can teach your children empathy.
Your toddler will learn empathy from your behaviour
Very small children are not yet able to understand how the things they say or do can affect other people’s emotions. The little man doesn’t always seem to understand that it hurts when he pulls my hair or slaps me through the face
Young toddlers and babies will start to learn empathy from the way you as their parent treat them, especially under difficult circumstances, such as when they are upset and throw a tantrum. I do to my best not scream or act upset, though I have the occasional lapse after a hard day at work or a somewhat sleepless night. 😛
As a result of gender stereotypes, it is often regarded as not as important for boys to learn empathy. This puts them at a disadvantage at school and in their future careers. Empathy also influences their future happiness, as people with empathy usually have stronger interpersonal connections.
Tips for teaching your child empathy
- Talk about feelings, e.g. your sister is sad because you took her doll.
- Emphasise with your child. Tell him you will hold his hand if he’s scared of something.
- Use “I messages” that will encourage self awareness. I don’t like it when you hit me.
- It’s important to be patient and remember that most toddlers are naturally very self-centred. Empathy is a very complex skill.
Even though he can be a terrorist, the little man does show signs of having an empathetic and loving nature. He loves to hug the people (and toys) in his life. If you are really lucky, he may reward you with a kiss. 🙂