Children and empathy

We want our children to empathize, to understand the situation of others, to be sensitive. So, is our expectation exaggerated and unfounded? Should we be able to say “Being able to empathize with experience and age, they are children”? Or does the skill of empathy, like to bend when the tree is old, acquired exactly at child ages?

Article: Burçin Öztınaz / Hand in Hand with My Baby

“When his friends arrive, my son excludes his younger brother and treats him very brutally. I tell them to take him in, and his brother is very upset about this, but this does nothing. The same scenario is repeated every time. ”

“A friend of mine with two children came to our house. My 10-year-old daughter made faces during their time with us, did not share her toys and before they left ‘They scattered everywhere! Who will gather them now! ”He started screaming screaming. I was so embarrassed … ”

“When I was in elementary school, I would run to anyone who needs help. Is there a new student in the class? I would take care of him right away so that he did not feel alone. Couldn’t a friend’s mother come to the report card ceremony? I would put myself in his place and try to support him. Now I expect the same behavior from my daughter. But he is not as sensitive at all. I don’t know what to do about it. ”

The number of mothers who set up the sentences you read above is not small. So, what can we do to improve our children’s empathy skills? Zeynep Tunalıoğlu, an expert psychologist from Nadis Danışmanlık, whom we address this question, defines empathy as follows: “Empathy means that a person can understand the situation and feelings of another person in the simplest way. In other words, to be able to feel inside that person and what kind of emotions this person may be experiencing in him, to put himself in his place …. ”

Tunalıoğlu’s “Empathy starts from how old?” The answer to the question is as follows: “Children start to develop a theory of mind after the age of three. First, the child begins to perceive itself as a separate entity. The second step is to understand that someone else’s mind is separate from their own mind and to guess that they have their own thoughts. At this age, you start to see the moments when your child first empathizes. He can stretch a toy to a sad person, or if he sees someone crying, he can also cry. However, at this age, empathy is still not very developed. However, in elementary school, he begins to be able to put himself in someone else’s shoes and to look at the world from his perspective. True empathy comes when your child starts stepping into adulthood during adolescence. ”

Why is empathy necessary?

It takes some time for the child to show compassion and attention to his environment, to know that others are different from us, to understand the feelings of the other person, and having this at an early age adds to the lives of children. Expert Psychologist Zeynep Tunalıoğlu said, “Children with high empathy skills are successful in many areas. They are loved more among their friends and tend to take on their leading roles. It has been observed that children who get along with their peers better adapt to the school and become more successful at school. More importantly, children with high empathy skills continue to demonstrate this skill in their adult life and establish healthier relationships. ”

Is it innate or later?
Many researchers argue that empathy skills are innate in humans and that is what makes us human. But of course, having a natural predisposition to this capacity does not mean that it will develop spontaneously. Expert Psychologist Zeynep Tunalıoğlu said, “What happens if a very well prepared bread dough is cooked incorrectly? No matter how delicious the dough is, the resulting bread will be burnt. This is also the empathy skill of children, it is congenital, but needs to be fed under the right conditions. ”

What can you do?

First of all, you can start yourself as an example for your child. Because it is much more effective for you to say that you do something for children! It is more effective to see you reading a book than simply to say “Read a book”.


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