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My 2nd grade daughter doesn't seem to have empathy. Shouldn't that have formed already?

She has complained that girls in her class are mean to her. After observing and listening, I truly believe that she may create any "meanness" of others be making instigating comments. When I've talked to her she doesn't seem to get that how she phrases things can hurt others feelings. We have always told all of our kids that they should be kind to everyone and consider how other people feel. We are a Christian home and encourage them to think about what God might expect in situations. My other two kids are boys and they learned empathy at a young age. Why does my daughter feel the need to bring people down? She doesn't celebrate victories with her friend; she acts jealous of their success. Is this a phase? Even so, I'd like to nip it in the bud. I'm afraid that she will alienate herself from everyone.

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32feed

Asked by 32feed at 10:01 AM on Mar. 30, 2011 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

Level 2 (7 Credits)
Answers (8)
  • Have you spoken with her doctor about it? Try that first.
    TARARENEE

    Answer by TARARENEE at 10:05 AM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • My first thought was you need to speak to her doctor about it. There are medical related things that can cause a child to lack empathy or need to be taught empathy differently.
    But_Mommie

    Answer by But_Mommie at 10:08 AM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • Is she feeling left out of situations? Is something making her feel overwhelmed or insecure? Instead of seeing her lack of empathy as something negative, perhaps there is an underlying cause for her to be reacting to something? Is someone in her life talking the way she does? Perhaps she is learning this from somewhere or someone. Maybe you can have "how would you feel" conversations. Talk about her feelings and what triggers the good and the bad. Show her how you can say the same thing in a good way and in a bad way. If you hear her say something insensitive at home, don't jump on her, but ask her if there is some other way she could say it. She is still developing emotionally, 2nd grade is still kind of young, but if you work on it you could smooth it out. Good luck!
    azhlynne

    Answer by azhlynne at 10:22 AM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • If your daughter were to see you cry, would it make her sad?

    It's normal for young children to feel jealous if one of their peers is victorious in something. My DD still gets jealous, she doesn't say anything. She always congratulates, & applauds her friends...but she WILL come home & tell me that she was a bit jealous that so & so won & she didn't. I think that is normal among kids (even some adults).

    Empathy is taught from parents, so if you're other two ARE empathetic & you feel you teach empathy to your child, she may have a narcissist complex. I forget the technical term. Hang on, I'll Google it for you....

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maia-szalavitz/missing-empathy_b_38784.html

    http://www.drkutner.com/parenting/articles/develop_empathy.html - this one is about how children develop empathy...
    samurai_chica

    Answer by samurai_chica at 10:25 AM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • Thanks for your ideas and recommendations. All make sense and are a good reminder for me. With two a little older (5th and 6th) sometimes it's easy to forget that she's still just a little girl. I do try to talk with her about how she's feeling and how others are feeling, but I can see her getting a little lost in the shuffle with two active older brothers. Interesting question, Samurai Chica! - I've noticed that when she's seen me cry, it's almost as if she knows she should feel bad (like her brothers do) but sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. -- not that I'm crying all the time! :) I certainly will try to be more attentive to her through this developmental state, but I will also keep in mind the potential for a medical concern. Thanks to each of you.
    32feed

    Comment by 32feed (original poster) at 10:52 AM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • My son is an aspie and you pretty much described him. He doesn't do these things to be mean he just doesn't realize how much they can hurt and he doesn't recognize his own culpability. He reacts the same way you described about crying or being upset. He knows there is another way he should behave towards but seems lost as to how to go about it. I agree talk to your pedi, there could be underlying issues.
    Liansmommie

    Answer by Liansmommie at 1:29 PM on Mar. 30, 2011

  • She is still young enough to benefit from a star chart. You might try making one for her for her chores & include some behavior items, too. Write all the items in a positive manner. You could put in, I was nice to my brothers today, or I gave 3 compliments at school today, or I was good & walked the dog without arguing, or whatever fits your family setting. I also used some of the ideas in a book called,"Dare To Discipline". Sorry, I don't remember the author. Some kids just need a different path to where they need to be.
    Hope this helps. Good luck & God bless.
    1bionicgranny

    Answer by 1bionicgranny at 8:30 AM on Mar. 31, 2011

  • Perhaps she needs to be enrolled in Girl Scouts
    Wish2Be

    Answer by Wish2Be at 3:04 PM on Mar. 31, 2011

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