Empathy, when does it develop in kids and why is it important?

Empathy, when does it develop in kids and why is it important?

When does empathy develop in kids?

 Annie Spratt @anniespratt

Photo by: Annie Spratt @anniespratt

Why is empathy important in child development

Empathy is a complex skill, and it can take many years to become established. Although very young children can show signs of empathy, and some more than others, even siblings can differ vastly, it is better to view its development as a work-in-progress through childhood and into adulthood.

Empathy is influenced by many factors, including our genes, personality, and the environment in which we are raised. We also need life experience and opportunities to practise empathy for it to flourish.

Empathy is the first step in having positive relationships because it helps us understand and relate to others.  When people lack empathy, they tend to give little or no consideration to how those around them may be feeling or what they might be going through.

when does empathy develop in kids

The inability to step into another person’s shoes and see a situation from their perspective can be extremely limiting. It can lead to a range of problems causing upset, misunderstandings, and a real disconnection in relationships.

In their early years, children tend to be egocentric, meaning that they are far more likely to think about themselves and their own needs than to consider others. This is entirely natural and a normal stage in any child’s development.

But as kids grow older, it’s important to establish a sense of empathy. It’s a crucial element in their emotional intelligence that will benefit them hugely, both within their childhood and later adult lives.


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As a child begins to develop empathy, they become aware of the differences between themselves and other people. They start to realize that we all have contrasting thoughts, opinions, and feelings, which helps them become tolerant and accepting of other people in other circumstances.

All of us want to feel understood by others – it’s a fundamental human need. When we know that those around us can relate to our emotions and acknowledge our thoughts, we feel valued and supported.

This is why empathy is crucial for healthy relationships and why we need to help kids learn to support others in this way. It’s the key to them forming strong and secure friendships.

Read more - How to teach empathy for elementary students >>



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Dream Cast Kids Journal helps teach empathy.

We have included writing prompt to help reinforce the concepts such as empathy and kindness, gratitude and more in both the Dream Cast Journal and Dream Cast Conversation Starter Cards tying the learning experience together perfectly.


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