Empathy

Empathy is the art of being able not only to be concerned with others, but also to attempt to put yourself in their shoes. This can be very hard for many young teens, but as your son gets older, it does become easier. Empathetic individuals often respond better when they recognize friends or relatives are in need of help.

Why Empathy Is Important

A study in Adolescence shows that empathy, intelligence, creativity, and reality testing are indications of emotional stability. Empathy is a skill your son has to learn. Empathy is a way to help your son in nearly every future interpersonal relationship. The ability to be able to see how another person might feel will help him plan his next move.

Empathy is a quality that cannot be taught, unlike riding a bike or dividing fractions, but parents can encourage empathetic behavior through their own words and actions. Ask your son small questions and move up to role-playing as he gains the maturity to handle empathy.

Look for opportunities to talk about empathy. Your son might mention something he saw at school or in the neighborhood, an altercation or dialogue between a student and teacher. Ask him to try to speak from both sides of the action. How did the participants feel? What might they have been thinking? How did their thoughts and feelings influence their behavior? How would he have handled it?

These types of questions will help your son learn to see how thoughts and feelings influence peoples' actions. This is something you should try to do often. Your son might enjoy these mind games, and they will provide him with human insight. It is also wise to teach your son not to overuse empathy. Remind him that it's possible project feelings that don't exist, and he needs to temper his beliefs of someone's feelings with reality.

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