Winning Over Endangered Empathy – Cincinnati Family Magazine

What does it mean to empathetic?

Some scholars define empathy as the ability to understand another person’s perspective and feelings about a situation. Others add that an empathetic person will respond to that understanding — a child offers a favorite toy to an upset friend, for example.

Although there is debate over empathy as a natural-born quality, plenty of evidence supports the idea that it is instinctive in children.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, located in Germany, conducted a study in which 3- and 5-year-olds watched a puppet “steal” items from another puppet.  They found that the children would then take those “stolen” items from the misbehaving puppet and return them to the original owner — indicating that preschoolers could show concern for others and even go so far as to help by returning the items. 

 Sherry Hang