Many parents don’t realize how important empathy is when building a relationship with your child. Parenting with empathy have great benefits for your child’s healthy emotional development, and helps you build a strong connection with them. By showing your child that their feelings are heard and understood, they will rely on you as a safety net to catch them when they fall.
Empathy is different than sympathy, which is when you feel sorry for someone else. Empathetic Parenting, or E-Parenting, is when you show empathy for your child, trying to understand how they are feeling and then responding in a way that supports them.
There are three steps to practicing E-Parenting. First, ask yourself what your child is experiencing. Maybe your child is crying at the park on a summer day. Think to yourself what might be causing them stress— they might be overheated and uncomfortable. Second, put their feelings into words. Tell them, “You are frustrated that you are hot. You want to get out of the sun.” Third, do something to help or support them. You could remove your child from the stressful situation by bringing them to a cool, shady spot.
E-Parenting helps your child understand and articulate strong emotions, and it may result in fewer tantrums over time. It helps your child’s brain develop, increases your child’s attention span, and builds strong self-esteem. When your child feels strong emotions, they have more “feeling words” to express themselves. If they are feeling uncomfortable in a new environment, tell them, “I know that you’re scared. I’ll be with you the whole time, and everything will be okay.” By using more “feeling words” around them, you can equip your child to express his emotions to adults and be understood.
It’s also important to note that parenting with empathy is not spoiling your child. Instead, you’re helping your child process strong emotions while building a strong connection with them. While you may not realize how impactful E-Parenting is right away, the work you’re doing is helping your child develop and build healthy habits for the rest of their life!