Rudimentary signs of empathy are apparent at birth. Newborns cry whenthey hear another infant crying, and very young babies imitate and reactto the facial expressions of others. Though these actions are reflexive,not conscious, they show that the brain is primed to respond to otherhumans. Parents are essential to this process. Every time a parentresponds lovingly to an infant's needs, feeding or soothing him, newneural connections are made, which associate good feelings with parentalcare and form the basis of the ability to love and empathize.
A toddler's first demonstrations of reciprocity are often directed atthe parent. A 12-month-old may try to feed her mother, but may simplystare at a child who is crying. By 2, children often try to comfort kidsas well, for example, by offering their doll to an upset child. Whatthey don't yet realize is that people's needs differ and that thepacifier from which they derive comfort, for example, may not do thetrick for someone else.
One of their first words is "Mine!" because ownership enhances theirnewfound sense of self. Although the idea of sharing can be introduced,kids are unable to act on it for another year or so.
What Can Parents Do?
What's the Goal?
To help your child become conscious of his own feelings and recognizeemotions in others.
|Activities For Younger Children|