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Empathy For Kids: Show Them You Understand

By Adina Soclof

 

 

Empathy is one of the best techniques that you can use when communicating with your children. In my classes I encourage parents and caretakers to learn how to deliver empathy to their children. Why? Because being empathetic with your kids helps them see you really care about them and respect their feelings. Once they feel your respect and your love you will see more cooperation and less power struggles.

So, how does this work? How can regular parents learn how to empathetic with their children?

Here are 2 things you need to know in order to be empathetic with your kids:

  1. Get inside your child’s head:

The definition of empathy is the ability to identify and understand another person’s feelings or difficulties. It is hard for adults to identify with children and see the world through their eyes. Many of us have forgotten how tough it is to be a kid. We don’t take our kids problems seriously because they seem so trivial compared to our own. The next time your child is crying because their favorite shirt is in the wash, try to imagine how you would feel if you had an important business meeting and all your clean shirts were at the dry cleaners. Relating to all your child’s problems in this way helps you gain insight and perspective. You will than be able to say sincerely, “Your favorite shirt is in the wash! You must be so disappointed. I know you were looking forward to wearing it.”

  1. Kids talk in code:

When a child is angry they will not say, “I am mad!” They do not have the emotional intelligence to recognize and verbalize their feelings. Instead they will say, “You are so stupid!” or “I hate you!” This is very hard for us parents to hear and we will jump in and admonish our child, “How dare you speak to me that way!”

Instead of rushing to reprimand our kids, we should take a minute to translate what they are saying. “You are the worst mother ever!” really means, “I get really frustrated when I want to do something and you don’t let me. Even though I know it is probably because you love me and you know what is best for me, it just makes me so angry!”

Once you understand your child’s language you might find yourself being empathetic and saying, “It is hard not to be your own boss, you would really like to make your own decisions as to when you go to bed. When you are 18 you will be allowed to be your own boss.”

The skill of empathy can be used in so many different ways. It is an excellent way to help us avoid conflict and to promote a strong and loving relationship with our children.

 

For more great tips like these visit us at www.parentingsimply.com.

 

Photo credit: Peej’s Photos / Foter / CC BY-NC

 

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