Empathy is the ability to understand someone’s emotions and viewpoint. It doesn’t necessarily means that you agree with or adopt their emotions and points of view. When practicing empathy with children and adolescents, they feel that they are being heard by others, understood and supported. Adults should avoid labelling the child’s emotions as “right” or “wrong”, rush into conclusions or immediately react to what they see or hear. Instead, it is important to acknowledge that children’s reactions or emotions are deeply connected to their needs which they strive to communicate, and they are not inherent to the child’s personality. Youth can feel more connected to the adults that show empathy to them and it provides with the sense of safety to communicate what they feel and think.
There are four key elements in showing empathy:
First of all, in order to show empathy to youth, adults should learn how to be empathetic to themselves.
Try using these phrases when talking to them: