Teaching Empathy and Sympathy With Positive Discipline
Using empathy to increase positive behavior – your child is more reasonable than you think.
What You Need to Know
Think about it – it's the epitome of living by example:
- Researchers of moral development have found that parents who are supportive yet insistent on appropriate behavior generally see better behavior in their children – and that's not just doing as they're told. This “better” behavior included greater sympathy and empathy at home, with friends, and at school.
- On the other hand, parents relying only on physical punishment and threats end up with children who possess lower sympathy levels.
How You Can Help:
When children misbehave, implement a strategy for discipline that emphasizes how the targeted behavior has affected someone else:
- Be specific when calling attention to the insensitive behavior, and be specific about what is wrong with her choice. “Slamming the door in my face only upsets me, and it doesn't extend your curfew any further.”
- Express your disapproval, and make sure your child understands exactly why you expect something different.
- Have your child put herself in the other person's shoes – “How would you feel if I rolled my eyes at you?” Prompt your child to label emotions, and determine what made her act as she did. This is especially helpful in teaching your child to work through peer misunderstandings by understanding where her friend might be coming from and what her friend might be feeling.
- Teach your child to recognize the consequences of her behavior.
- Praise your child when she does express appropriately sensitive behavior. Encourage unselfish acts by pointing out the big effects of small gestures, such as making her friend happy by sharing a new toy with her.
For more on this topic, please see the full article:
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