Thoughts on fostering growth through empathy
- a blog for parents -
As the subtitle of this blog (Thoughts on fostering growth through empathy) implies, empathy is the core skill that helps promote healthy growth and development in children. But what is "empathy"?
The best working definition I have run across ironically comes from business guru, Seth Godin. Seth talks about empathy as the ability to understand another person's experience (their thoughts, feelings and perspectives) whether or not you agree with them. According to his definition, the greatest empathy is expressed when you specifically do NOT agree with or have anything in common with the "other" with whom you are empathizing. That means, even if you don't think the way that other person thinks; don't feel the way that other person feels; and don't see the world the way that other person sees the world; but still UNDERSTAND why and how they would think, feel and perceive the world the way they do...THAT's empathy.
I have seen many definitions of the word, but that pretty much sums it up!
You don't have to agree with the other person in other to empathize with them.
So, when it comes to your children, how could this work the next time they share ideas, feelings and perspectives that differ from your own? And how can you engage with them empathetically?