trabajar la empatia en niños

Empathy is not inherent in man from birth, but develops during the child’s life when he interacts with other people. A very young child is still unable to empathize with other people.

So should parents contribute to the development of the child’s empathy or is their intervention unnecessary?

A child at an early age of 3 years is hardly capable of showing empathy yet, with few exceptions, for other people, but little by little in preschool we will be able to see the first manifestations of empathy.


How do you develop empathy?

Three conditions or stages are needed to develop empathy:

  1. Have your own positive experiences .
  2. Be aware of your own emotions and feelings .
  3. Have an understanding of what the other person feels.

First stage

Get your own positive experiences

The child can learn simply by observing the interactions of other people and in this the way in which the parents relate to the child is of great importance. A lack of empathy on our part can be detrimental, for example, in the event that the child falls and runs to his parents. Parents must understand that falling can be painful, so a loving hug can be a better solution many times than resorting to ” that’s nothing .” In this way, the child experiences the empathy that the parents have for him in the face of a problem and can reproduce it also in the face of the possible problems of others.

Why do you need these experiences?

When we are at the beginning of the child’s development of empathy, if he is treated positively with sympathy, affection and gentleness , surely these attitudes will help him later to understand and understand the feelings of others. Therefore, the basis of the formation of empathy is simply a manifestation of previous empathy towards the child.


Second stage

The next stage in developing empathy is awareness of your own emotions and feelings . He who can understand what is happening to him at a specific moment, will be able to better understand the feelings of another person. On many occasions this is something complex since a young child cannot even recognize their own feelings and express them, so the role of parents is important to help them express what they feel.

A small example: if the child cries when he arrives at kindergarten and his parents have to go to work, we can say: “ don’t worry, I’ll come back, okay?”, But this will not help much to the feelings that the child experiences at such a time. If, on the contrary, we say: “ I would not want to leave either, but when I return we will go to the park and have a great time. I love you ”, the child will feel understood and motivated to move on and wait for our return.

In this way, we help the little ones to realize their feelings and how they should accept and deal with them. After a while, they themselves will be able to start talking about their feelings much more easily.

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Third stage

The last stage is to become aware of what another person “may” feel .

Empathy is not possible if you do not know exactly what the other person feels, that is why it is important to talk with our children, and to discuss the various situations that arise in life, or even a peculiar situation that we have seen in a movie, on a TV show, etc.

Let’s take a brief case: a child falls on the street and cries. If your child pays attention, he will be able to realize what has happened and comment on it: ” The child has fallen and hurt himself .” Even children of 2 or 3 years old, could already draw their own conclusions when observing this scene: ” the child fell and is crying because it hurts a lot “. However, observation may not be enough to draw a conclusion about the mood and feelings of another child, and this may leave our children feeling confused. In these cases, the help of an adult would be needed to help understand what is happening.
To conclude, we will say that having the capacity for empathy, understanding another person or feeling what others feel, is something very complex. The different circumstances that occur in the child’s life may contribute positively to developing this capacity, or negatively hindering it completely.

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