Friday, September 18, 2009

Empathy - It's Pure Gold!

Some Definitions
Sincere Sincere - open and genuine; not deceitful, not fake or counterfeit, true, being or occurring in fact or actuality

Empathy -the ability to sense and understand someone else's feelings as if they were one's own [Greek empatheia affection, passion],


A Skill to Master
Probably the very first skill to master in Love and Logic is this ability to be sincerely empathetic. Empathy and anger do not mix. Empathy and sarcasm don't mix. You cannot be empathetic and sarcastic at the same time. Sarcasm is a cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound or to make someone (your child) the butt of contempt or ridicule. It has no place in healthy parenting (or healthy marriage relationships for that matter)

Empathy can be learned. It takes a willingness to practice mastery over both our mouths and our emotions. My Mom used to tell us as kids that it was important to engage our brains before we opened our mouths. She was right... but the part of the brain to engage is not the brain stem (the seat of anger, and emotion and fight or flight response) but the frontal lobe (logical thought). That's what sincere empathy does both for us and for our children. It moves thinking to the right part of the brain so that children can think about their actions instead focusing on our anger..
How to Practice Empathy
  1. Pick one empathetic phrase that you feel comofortable using ("Rats!" "That's never good!" "Oh Man!")
  2. Practice saying it sincerely.
  3. Use the same empathetic phrase in every discipline situation leading with empathy before locking in consequences. This lets your child know that you really do understand their feelings when they make a bad decision - that you "feel for" them.

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