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Ages & Stages: Empathy
By Carla Poole, Susan A. Miller 7, Ellen Booth Church
How to nurture this important gateway to a social and emotional growth

0 to 2: Building a Foundation
by Carla Poole

3 to 4: An Awareness of Feelings
by Susan A. Miller, Ed.D.

5 to 6: Showing Compassion
by Ellen Booth Church

"Stage by Stage: 0 to 2

  • By soothing an infant, you'll help him learn to comfort himself and, eventually, to comfort others.
  • Toddlers are sensitive to the feelings of their friends and will often mimic their emotions, a necessary precursor to empathy.
  • Empathy needs to be repeatedly modeled and encouraged in toddlers before it becomes a part of their behavior.

Stage by Stage: 3 to 4

  • Threes can make the connection between emotions and desires, and they can respond to a friend's distress with simple soothing gestures.
  • Sometimes preschoolers can only relate to the feelings of others if they share the same feelings and perspective on a situation.
  • Fours are capable of seeing a situation from another person's perspective. Yet they need to know that not all! reactions to feelings are OK.

Stage by Stage: 5 to 6

  • With their ever-increasing vocabulary, lives love to share their feelings, and discussions about emotions will help them develop a better understanding of the feelings of others.
  • Fives and sixes are learning how to read others' feelings through their actions, gestures, and facial expressions — an essential empathy and social skill.
  • By modeling and encouraging empathy, kindergartners will learn how to become compassionate members of a caring community."