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Testing Your Child’s Empathy 


Empathy is a trait that may come naturally to some, but it is a skill that takes practice for others. If you are an empathetic person, you can successfully put yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand their perspective. Empathy differs from sympathy because when you feel sympathetic you aren’t necessarily thinking about how the other person feels. Rather when you feel sympathy you are projecting your own feelings onto someone and assuming they would feel the same way you do. 


People who experience empathy will usually have an emotional reaction to a situation even if they aren’t personally involved. However, because they are emotionally invested empathetic people are more likely to give sincere apologies, help others when they are struggling and always seem to know exactly what to say during highly emotional times.


It is important to note that there is a significant difference between somebody having empathetic qualities and someone being an empath. When someone has empathetic qualities they can see things from someone else’s perspective and understand why the other person feels the way they do. On the other hand, an empath feels so strongly for others that in some instances they will start feeling the same emotions another person is experiencing. Oftentimes they are also able to read people’s emotions from their body language, facial expressions, or change in character, even when the other person believes they are hiding it well.  


Kids can start showing empathetic traits when they are as young as two years old. This is a good time to really start paying attention to how your child is interacting with other children or adults. If you notice that your child is often aware of people’s emotions around them such as yelling or laughing then they are beginning to show their first signs of empathy. However, if you notice that your child does not acknowledge when people around them have an emotional response then it may be time to start practicing empathy with your child. 


Determining if your child is an empath, has empathetic qualities, or lacks empathy will help you to teach them what boundaries to set in the future and how to respond to others when they are experiencing strong emotions. If you notice your child is showing qualities of being an empath, you will want to give them the skills to be able to separate their emotions from the emotions of the people around them. If they are unable to learn this skill then they may end up allowing the people around them to dictate their mood as they get older. 


If you are curious about measuring your child’s empathy there are a few different tests you can try. If your child is younger, then you can try showing them photos of people in various situations with their facial expressions missing, and it’s your child’s job to fill in what expression they think matches the situation. Similarly, you can show them various facial expressions and ask them what they think the person is feeling. If your child is older and more aware of their interactions with others then you can have them take an empathy quiz that will provide you with some answers and possible solutions to becoming more empathetic if necessary. 


Don’t let your child become a bully because they can’t put themselves in someone else’s shoes. As kids are growing up in an increasingly digital world it is important to teach them to connect with their emotions and be aware of others’ emotions because interacting through a screen can make it even easier to become emotionally disconnected. It can be easy to send a mean comment or message online when you don’t have to see the person’s reaction, but if your child understands how the other person feels, they might be less likely to hit send. 


By// Jessica Lee



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