Empathy is learned by experiencing empathy. Our power as parents to teach empathy lies in our ability to be it.
Empathy says to your child or teen, I see your feelings. It says, You are not alone with your big feelings and I have space to hold them with you.
Empathy is not the same as giving them a pass for their behavior. The priority is different. Validating their feelings creates the path to connection. From connection come the life lessons that you want them to learn.
Of course, boundaries are a necessary part of creating an environment of safety at home. They establish guard rails for what is OK and what is not OK when it comes to behavior. However, I believe the most effective way to improve behavior must go through empathy.
Here's today's Quick Tip for a Quick Win with parenting...
>>When faced with difficult teen behavior,
surprise them with empathy!
Try this empathy practice next time your teen is being maddening. Before you step in, (unless there’s a risk of someone getting hurt) do the following:
Take a moment to imagine what they might be feeling.
Notice what shifts…
You don’t have to do anything else to start this practice. That’s it.
(Click the image below for using empathy to set healthy boundaries)