Blog

Empathy versus Sympathy – What’s the big deal?

February 12, 2014

With Valentine’s Day a mere 3 days away, I wanted to share a mini-lesson on the difference between something we all carry in that fist-sized red organ that sits in the middle of our chests. I’m sharing this lesson because it is one of the keys to managing your child’s behavior – seriously!

Empathy is about connection and sympathy is about disconnection.

That’s it. Mini-lesson over. You want more? Ok. There are three key qualities of empathy that I want you to consider as we discover more about parenting –

1. Perspective taking – the ability to take the perspective, or “stand in the shoes of” another person

2. Staying out of judgment – rarely does empathy begin with the phrase, “At least”, as in “At least you got one hit in the game”.

3. Recognizing emotion – Identifying an emotion in another person, then communicating that. Instead of trying to make things better, how about saying, “Wow, I don’t even know what to say right now, but I’m so glad you told me.”shutterstock_173325368

A colleague of mine shares a story of empathy – imagine your child falling in a deep hole and shouting out, “I’m stuck, it’s dark, I’m overwhelmed.” Then we look in and we say, “Hey, I know what it’s like down here, and your not alone.”

Empathy is a vulnerable choice. In order to connect with our children, we have to connect with something inside ourselves that knows that feeling. Try some empathy with your heart-shaped chocolates this week! Be WISE!

Accepting NEW clients: Need a "digital" Sanity Break?

The Wise Family is committed to providing children, teens and families with AMAZING and uninterrupted care during the coronavirus public health crisis.

Our Alexandria and Arlington offices are OPEN with limited visit options, depending on your therapist, AND we are meeting with many of our regularly scheduled clients through secure video conferencing.

Click the button below to send us a message or schedule a FREE 15-minute consult TODAY!

Schedule My Appointment