Of course we want our kids to be compassionate and sensitive to other people’s feelings. The problem is that many kids’ “empathy potential” is greatly handicapped because they don’t have the ability to identify and express emotions.
They have tremendous difficulty feeling for the other person simply because they may not recognize the other person’s hurt, elation, discomfort, anxiety, pride, happiness, or anger.
What these kids need is an education that provides stronger emotional intelligence: an adequate vocabulary of feelings and then the encouragement to use it. Once kids are more emotionally literate and can understand their own feelings their empathy will grow, because they will be far more capable of understanding and feeling other people’s concerns and needs.
Dr Michele Borba