Toddler empathy

posted by Jeff | Friday, November 23, 2012, 8:57 PM | comments: 0

Simon caused a minor accident that resulted in a broken ceramic decorative object. It made quite a crash. He immediately became concerned and told Diana that he was sorry. He repeated that he was sorry several times, and he seemed to show genuine empathy.

This is a bit of a milestone for him. Simon has a history of hurting his parents because he uses his head as a battering ram. That neither one of us has lost any teeth is a miracle. He's head-butted me in the nuts countless times. While these events have historically resulted in swearing and shouts of pain, Simon has not generally demonstrated any remorse or understanding of what he caused.

It isn't just when he did something to cause some kind of harm. I've seen Simon bring things to help his toddler friends, and he's also displayed concern for me when I'm stressed out. He's definitely starting to grasp when other people are experiencing intense feelings.

What I find interesting about this empathy development is that he simultaneously isn't able to process and identify his own intense feelings, which is pretty classic for his age. When he isn't getting what he wants, or can't do something he'd like, he tends to flip out. Trying to get his new found words out is extraordinarily difficult.

I know I've said this before, but watching him go through these stages brings back memories of my own experiences. I'm particularly excited about the feelings of imagination from my childhood that come rushing back when I see him playing with cars and trucks, driving them on various surfaces.


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