Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It seems so simple, yet it is an essential (and often overlooked) skill children need to learn in order to develop into healthy adults. As parents, it’s not always in the forefront of our minds, and some may find it a bit odd to think they need to actually teach their child empathy. Doesn’t it just come naturally?
Yes and no. Children are born with the aptitude for empathy, but it needs to be taught and encouraged throughout their childhood. Research shows there is a clear correlation between the ability to empathize and future fulfillment and success. Making (and keeping) worthy friends, succeeding in school, attaining a gratifying career, maintaining a healthy marriage, all of these things rely on one critical skill: EMPATHY.
In recent years a growing number of noted mental health professionals have observed that play is as important to human happiness and well being as love and work (Schaefer, 1993). Some of the greatest thinkers of all time, including Aristotle and Plato, have reflected on why play is so fundamental in our lives.
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