What Is Empathy?
Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s perspective, to feel the emotions they feel and to understand what their thoughts are in a particular situation.
The characteristics of empathy are:
- Active listening
- Observation of the non-verbal micro-signals
- You are sensitive and can easily understand the perspective of the other people
- Reward and praise people, give them feedback for improvement
- Supportive of the development of others
Benefits of Empathy
- Empathy is the human capacity that unites minds and hearts regardless of culture or generation
- Empathy is one of the key factors influencing the level of happiness and success in life and is the basis for healthy relationships, trust and resilience
- It inspires the courage and compassion we need to become valuable members of the community
- It is the best antidote to bullying and racism
- Empathy can be learned. It consists of habits that must be developed, practised and lived
- Empathy is activated by direct experimentation, not theoretically learned through cards and posters
“Empathy is our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion” Baron-Cohen.
Let’s re-learn the concept of WE instead of I
Around the beginning of the 2000s, the most dramatic decline of empathy began, with a strong focus on the I and not on WE.
The key factors that have led to this decline are: hyper-competitiveness, lack of face-to-face connectivity, new generation models such as celebrities, focusing on money and fame as values, social media that portrays the online lives, increasing stress levels without management strategies, lack of free play time with children, praise that focuses on being special than others.
This madness of self-centering, called by many psychologists and authors as the Selfie Syndrome is all about self-promotion, personal branding and personal interest by excluding feelings, needs and concerns of others.
This egocentrism destroys empathy (the foundation of humanity) which can have devastating effects on character and morality. That is why we need to teach the children to change their focus from me, mine to us, ours.
- Be his/her moral guideIf you want the little one to be not only polite but also understanding and honest with other people, you must “teach” those qualities through your behaviour and attitude. Even if the little one does not ask for your explicit advice to make the right decision in each situation, s/he will absorb the characteristics you cultivate and display.
- Expand their universeIt is important to take the little one out of his own universe and foster empathy through literature, volunteering or role-playing. This way the child can begin to see the problems of others, you will encourage him to think of other people and to open his heart to those in need.
- See the qualities of othersDo not be afraid to highlight and discuss the moments when the others were kind and generous: you will not bore the little one, but you will teach them some important moral notions. It is important to help children realize that everyone has qualities that must be appreciated.
- Set prioritiesIf you are more concerned about your child’s happiness than how he treats others, then he will also begin to give the same priority to things. It is essential for your child to know that the needs of others are just as important as his needs.
- Explore feelings and emotionsEncouraging your child to think and talk about his own emotions will help him recognize the more subtle emotions of others, which will enable him to act accordingly. The child’s desire to try to understand how and what other people feel and the ability to empathize will be qualities that will enable him to build healthy relationships with other people.
- Make him feel loved
Daily appreciation and emotional connection are necessary for the little one to become an individual with high self-esteem. That is because a person has to love himself before he can truly appreciate and love others.