Empathy is not the same as sympathy. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone else’s misfortune, whereas empathy is when you understand and actually share someone else’s feelings. Being sympathetic is a surface level emotion. There’s nothing wrong with sympathy, but empathy goes much deeper. When someone else hurts, you hurt. When someone else is happy, you share their joy. The ability to recognize, understand, and feel someone else’s emotions is empathy, and when you’re able to manage and express the emotions of yourself and others, that’s emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence can make your child much more adept at interacting with others. When they can understand the feelings of others, it can help them to deal with interpersonal issues. Conflicts with friends and family members are easier to resolve when you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes and articulate how you’re feeling and why.
Why is it important?
If you value mutual respect and consideration for others, empathy is the most useful thing you can teach your children. This article from the Huffington Post has excellent tips for teaching your child to recognize, understand, and express their emotions which is vital for developing empathy and emotional intelligence. Your children won’t be able to understand the emotions of others if they can’t understand and manage their own emotions.
Teaching them to understand and acknowledge their own feelings will help them to better understand the feelings of others. Having self-awareness and being able to see things from the perspective of others is key to being empathetic. Learning how to respond appropriately to their own emotions will help them to understand and respond appropriately to the emotions of others.
At St. Barnabas Episcopal School our goal is to help your children grow into considerate and responsible adults. One way we do this is through our weekly chapel services where we encourage students to challenge themselves and grow in their faith. Contact us today to learn more about how St. Barnabas can benefit your child’s emotional and academic growth.