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What are the Specific Blocks of Empathy in Parenting



 Want Your Child to Care? Here's How to Cultivate Empathy 

Miki Dedijer 

"”Empathy blockers save us the trouble of listening, but they cost us our connection with each other,” says Robin Grille. They frustrate our child, and with time create detachment, distance and mistrust. These are some examples of empathy blockers from his wonderful book Heart-to-Heart Parenting.

  • DownplayingOh, don’t cry. I’m sure it’s not that bad! It’s not the end of the world.
  • DenialThere is nothing wrong; nothing for you to be upset about. Everything is OK.
  • ReasoningDon’t cry. Can’t you see that the other child didn’t mean to hurt you?
  • The positive spinLook on the bright side. Can’t you see, this probably happened for a good reason?
  • Cheering upDon’t worry. Here, let me tell you something funny I heard the other day. Here, have an ice cream. That’ll cheer you up.
  • Advising/giving optionsWhy don’t you try doing this, or that? I think you should just ignore that so-and-so."
  • The expectationYou should have known better. Get over it. Don’t let it get to you.

  • Put downDon’t be silly. Don’t be ridiculous.

  • Diagnosing/labelingYou are being over-sensitive.

  •  Distracting/divertingHey, have a look at the pretty puppet.

  •  Stealing the thunderNow you know how I felt when the same thing happened to me"




"Researchers have also identified childrearing practices which are NEGATIVELY related to the development of empathy: 
  • THREATS AND/OR PHYSICAL PUNISHMENTS meted out in an attempt to improve children's behavior are counterproductive 
    • (Clarke 1984; 
    • Eisenberg-Berg and Mussen 1978;
    •  Kohn 1991; and
    •  Zahn-Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, and King 1979).
  •  INCONSISTENT CARE (e.g., inconsistency in parents' reactions to children's emotional needs) and PARENTAL REJECTION/WITHDRAWAL in times of children's emotional needs are both associated with low levels of empathy on the parts of the children
    •  (Kestenbaum, Farber, and Sroufe 1989). 
  • Children from HOMES IN WHICH THEIR FATHERS PHYSICALLY ABUSE THEIR MOTHERS have low levels of empathy. For example, they are typically unable to recognize the emotional states of other people and respond appropriately
    •  (Hinchey and Gavelek 1982). 
  • The provision of EXTRINSIC REWARDS OR "BRIBES" to improve children's behavior is counterproductive. As with other research on extrinsic rewards, researchers have found that providing payoffs for prosocial behavior focuses attention on the reward rather than the reason for it and that the desired behaviors tend to lessen or disappear when the reward is withdrawn (Kohn 1991)."
    (Cotton)*


The 12 Communication Roadblocks
Gordon Training: A catalogue of effects of the typical ways parents respond to children
These are blocks to empathy.
  • Roadblock #1: ORDERING, DIRECTING, COMMANDING
  • Roadblock #2: WARNING, ADMONISHING, THREATENING
  • Roadblock #3: EXHORTING, MORALIZING, PREACHING
  • Rodblock #4: ADVISING, GIVING SUGGESTIONS OR SOLUTIONS
  • Roadblock #5: LECTURING, GIVING LOGICAL ARGUMENTS
  • Roadblock #6: JUDGING, CRITICIZING, DISAGREEING, BLAMING
  • Roadblock #7: PRAISING, AGREEING
  • Roadblock #8: NAME-CALLING, RIDICULING, SHAMING
  • Roadblock #9: INTERPRETING, ANALYZING, DIAGNOSING
  • Roadblock #10: REASSURING, SYMPATHIZING, CONSOLING, SUPPORTING
  • Roadblock #11: PROBING, QUESTIONING, INTERROGATING
  • Roadblock #12: WITHDRAWING, DISTRACTING, HUMORING, DIVERTING
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