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Does your preschooler feel empathy?

I receive emails from BabyCenter.com frequently about where my child should be developmentally. Here's the one I received today; she's been like this since she was about two.

Your 4-year-old now

Your child may begin to show concern or try to comfort others who are sad or angry. Her ability to understand feelings through words or body language is advancing. She can empathize with people who are not right in front of her (an aunt you're talking about, a character in a story). And because her verbal skills have advanced, she can now offer empathy with words and express her own feelings.

In fact, the more children talk about and can name their feelings, the better equipped they are to show empathy. Chances are your child can identify with sadness and anger because she's felt those emotions and can name them. Feelings like embarrassment are more complex. To help bolster her emotional intelligence, give her words to match her feelings: "I know falling down in front of those kids was embarrassing for you."

Validate feelings no matter how trivial they may seem to you. You want your child to feel safe sharing with you. It helps to be honest about your own emotions: "I'm feeling sad because Grandma died." Or "Yes, I'm mad at Dad, but I still love him."

Model empathetic behavior, too. Take her with you when you deliver a meal to a sick neighbor. Give hugs on tough days. Compliments also go a long way: "That was nice of you to be worried when Miles was crying. You made him happy when you gave him his blanket."

Look around at your social circle: Is it widening? Is the center point of it — guess who — your child? As she becomes more sociable and involved in preschool, she'll be invited to an endless stream of birthday parties. Which means you'll spend more time talking to her buddies' parents. Lo and behold, soon some of your best friends will be people you only know because your kids took a shine to one another at the crafts table! It's a strange but happy phenomenon to be known primarily as Colton's Dad or Mara's mom. Get used to it — you can expect this to continue as your child grows.

 
_Tam_

Asked by _Tam_ at 9:30 PM on Dec. 18, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 30 (42,083 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (6)
  • My son is 6 and though he can show empathy at times it isn't always apparent but this comes with his diagnosis. My DD is 3 and she is very empathic.
    But_Mommie

    Answer by But_Mommie at 9:42 PM on Dec. 18, 2010

  • My son has always been very empathetic.

    JeremysMom

    Answer by JeremysMom at 9:31 PM on Dec. 18, 2010

  • Yes my daughter has always shown empathy
    mommy_of_two388

    Answer by mommy_of_two388 at 9:32 PM on Dec. 18, 2010

  • No, I don't think my DS feels much empathy
    kathy5980

    Answer by kathy5980 at 9:33 PM on Dec. 18, 2010

  • My son has always been empathetic. :) It's a good quality.
    jillrebecca3

    Answer by jillrebecca3 at 4:22 AM on Dec. 19, 2010

  • my twins are. its sweet!
    AingealsBabies

    Answer by AingealsBabies at 8:51 AM on Dec. 19, 2010

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