Show empathy mainly when the children commit mistakes, and do not concentrate on studies. After all, when they are doing well, there is no need to bother at all. When a child fares badly in an Exam, loses in a competition, is confused or overtaken by depression, he needs moral support and consoling words from the parents. That is why, when a child does not do well in studies, rather than scolding or even criticising, one should try to understand the circumstances that led to the helplessness of the child. At that stage, soothing words of consolation can go a long way to raise the child’s confidence level.
We also come across children often wasting their time in talking over cell phones, watching T.V., more so violent and romantic scenes. This is because of fascinations or infatuations due to hormonal changes. If we understand this, we can handle them subtly, with sensible counselling and positive strokes (Positive strokes are encouraging words and expression of confidence in their abilities).
When you see someone make a mistake, you tend to pinpoint that mistake, and criticise or even chide him, and eventually lose harmony. On the other hand, if you empathise, instead of that negative stroking, you will help him rectify the mistake, and win his goodwill! This is the power of ‘Empathy’!
In fact, parents’ response could be in four ways :
Always finding fault (negative stroking) and opposing the children’s views(antipathy)
Not being concerned at all (apathy)
Expressing oneness with them (sympathy) or
Looking from the children’s point of view (empathy)
I have an interesting anecdote. There was an irresponsible father, who used to be drunk all the time, shout at his two sons, beat his wife for no reason, ransack the house, and create hell each day. He died in an accident. His distant cousin visited his house to condole the death.
But she was highly surprised at the contrasting behaviour of the two sons. The elder one surpassed the father in his addiction to drinking. When she asked him why he did so, his instant response was “After watching my father for so many years, how come I not become so?” She had no answer!
The younger son was perfect, never got into any of such habits. She asked him how it was possible for him to be so good.Interestingly, his reply was “After watching my father for so many years, how could I become so?”
“He showed us hell on earth, made everyone suffer ! After seeing all this, I resolved never to be like him!”
What a contrast ! Same experience, but their analysis and adoption were totally different. That is why, it is imperative to show empathy and analyse things from the children’s point of view.