Strategies for Building Foundation for Empathy and Tolerance

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[Source: Science Daily]

empathy

When a child feels valued, he sees values in others. When he realizes he has his own thoughts and emotions, he understands that others do, too. When his ideas and feelings are respected, he learns to respect them in others.

“As a parent, you want your child to understand and respect that other people have thoughts and feelings. It makes for healthier children who develop into happier adults,” said Bradford Wiles, assistant professor in early childhood development and extension specialist at Kansas State University. His research and outreach focus on childhood cognitive and social-emotional development, theory of mind and emergent literacy.

“It’s a much easier existence for children if they see value in everyone,” he said. “When they start to get judgmental, things get so much harder for them.”

Somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5, children start to develop the understanding that other people have thoughts and feelings, too. “When you understand that, and can take another person’s perspective, that is part of empathy,” Wiles said.

For example, a toddler may understand that when another child grabs a toy from her she doesn’t like it. But she may not understand that when she grabs a toy from another person he may feel the same way.

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