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Dear Gy, Have you heard me use the word ’empathy’ before? You may be confusing it with the term ‘sympathy’ and you wouldn’t be alone. A lot of people do that too. Today, I will talk about why you need empathy in a world that needs it more and more with every passing day.

Empathy is where you listen to another person, really listen, and feel the pain that they are going through.

It’s that quality which allows you to step out of your comfort zone and place yourself in another person’s shoes.

Empathy allows you to experience compassion for another without judgement. And that is one of the hardest things to do these days.

One of the best explanations of empathy can be found in this short video by Brene Brown, one of my favourite writers and speakers.

I am going to share a few ways that you can follow empathy and how you can ensure you continue to do so.

3 Ways you can teach empathy to your children. #Parenting Click to Tweet

Read books that guide your emotions:

Do you remember what you loved about the book, ‘Wonder’? You felt the pain of Auggie, the kindness of Summer, the love from the parents and even the perspective of Julian, the bully. That feeling is empathy.

When you read the Harry Potter series, what did you enjoy the most, apart from the fun elements? The fact that you could actually feel the pain of loss, the emotion of grief as key characters left Harry’s life. If a book or a film can do that, imagine how much more powerful it is to experience that in reality.

Continue to read more books that awaken that tender portion of your heart. Nothing widens your horizons like reading and reading extensively.

Practise Empathy in your actions:

What did you enjoy about the time you had your grandparents over? Yes, it was great fun, of course. But you insisted that they put up their feet and every time Ammamma felt tired, you would press her feet, offer to bring her water and spend time listening to her talk. You did this all voluntarily, if you recall.

Do the same for anyone in your life- parents, friends, siblings, grandparents, strangers- everyone appreciates it.

Most often, that’s all people need. A kind listener and someone who will help take the weight off their minds.

Offer compassion without expecting anything in return

This one is particularly tough because most of our actions are built around some sort of give and take. It’s not your fault or mine; that’s just the way the world is. But there’s a way to get around it and I will share what I do.

One of the things Amma does as part of her job is offer help to bloggers and other parents. Many times, I do it on the blog itself but I also reply to those who ask me questions over e-mail, in a private group or even a personal message. I don’t expect anything in return. I do this freely because I truly believe that when you offer help you get repaid in ways that you don’t even expect.

You did the same thing recently with your young cousin, if you recall. Her morbid fear of water was washed away when you gently held her in the swimming pool and convinced her that she’d be safe in your care. You could do that because many years ago, when you had that fear, someone else did the same thing for you. That’s how empathy gets repaid. It will happen without your realising it and that’s the best thing possible.

Empathy is one trait that will hold you in good stead as you grow older, wiser and kinder. The world has a nasty way of turning us into cynics and disbelievers of everything that is good and kind. But today, I want you to promise me that you will not lose this quality. The empathy I see in your eyes, the kindness I see in your actions and the compassion I experience in your behaviour brings a lump to my throat every time I come across it.

Be empathetic today and know that tomorrow, the world will turn around and be empathetic in turn.

What goes around, comes around.

If you liked this post, pin it!

Mom and child hugging. How I teach empathy to my child using simple methods.

I am writing short notes to my daughter on some aspects that I hold very dear. This was originally planned as part of the A to Z Challenge, but due to time constraints I have decided to write the posts over a longer period.

I hope you enjoy these snippets as much as I love writing them.

Thank you for being part of my journey.

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Shailaja V

Hi there! I'm Shailaja Vishwanath, a blogger with 12 years of blogging experience and a parent to a teen. I work as a digital marketing and social media consultant. From positive parenting tips to useful productivity hacks, social media advice to blogging advice, you'll find them all right here. Welcome to my blog.


Rachna Parmar · May 14, 2018 at 11:01 am

Empathy is so important. I see such a lack of it especially among adults. It is so important that you are teaching Gy the importance of empathy. However, I feel that sometimes putting yourself in others’ shoes constantly is emotionally draining and depressing. I remember that I used to feel so depressed when I read stories of mums, kids or even pets being ill treated, of their losses and other events where I felt angry and so sorry for those who went through those events. My dad sat me down and explained that getting too emotionally involved with everything will unnecessarily take a toll on me. Since then I practise measured empathy. I am there for people close to me but I distance myself from those who are not in my immediate circle. Not easy but has helped me personally. Of course, empathy on the whole is very important for everyone to practise.

Rosamond · May 14, 2018 at 4:38 pm

I agree with you, Empathy is very important for everybody now a day. We need to practice it and learn our children too.

Parul Thakur · May 14, 2018 at 8:28 pm

What a beautiful word and feeling to share with kids. I loved how you penned this for Gy and in turn suggesting parents similar ways to teach empathy. Fantastic post.

Soumya · May 15, 2018 at 11:41 am

Awww, this melts my heart. Trust you to talk about this topic without making it feel preachy.

Empathy is so important. It should be inculcated in us while we are very young so that we can be better humans as we grow. ‘Wonder’ did wonders for me in terms of making me conscious of empathy and kindness.

If Gy reads and follows these points, she’s all set to take on the world.


Nabanita Dhar · May 16, 2018 at 10:41 am

It’s so wonderful that you are teaching empathy to GY. It is something that I find lacking in so many of us. But sometimes having empathy also sometimes leads to us being hurt. Just a week or so ago, I realised my empathy for someone caused that person to speak ill of me behind my back. I don’t need to tell you how bad I felt when I got to know about it. So, I’m often in two minds about empathy when it comes to someone outside of my inner circle but yes it’s definitely something that we should inculcate in our kids.

Shantala · May 18, 2018 at 8:36 am

Love that video on empathy. It captures the essence of the emotion perfectly!

Btw, I was curious, does Gy read these posts on the blog, or do you share it with her offline?

    Shailaja · May 18, 2018 at 9:52 am

    She reads them after I have published them on the blog. I also send a copy of it to an e-mail address I created for her 🙂

Chirag Mehta · May 30, 2018 at 1:09 am

That’s a great post without an iota of being preachy.

Admire the manner in which you remember the incidents and connect the dots to give personal examples to make a point.

Thank you for contributing to making the world a better place by talking about such topics, which we often tend to overlook.

    Shailaja · June 3, 2018 at 7:19 am

    Thank you very much for reading and sharing your thoughts on the post.

Kyle · June 12, 2018 at 1:40 am

Great information. Sometimes I find it hard to get my children to feel empathy toward those who might not have it as good as they do. To put yourself in someone elses shoes will really open you eyes.

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