The importance of empathy in parenting

Robert Brooks, PhD Therapist and Author, explains how empathy is the most important skill that parents can have and shares what makes empathy in parents so important
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The importance of empathy in parenting

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When I'm asked, what is one of the most important parenting skills, right at the top is, empathy. That basically means that we put ourselves inside the shoes of our children and see the world through their eyes. It's hard to be an effective parent unless we understand how our children see us and see the world. To help parents be empathic, I often say to them, "Make a list of all the words you hope your children would use to describe you." I remember at one of my workshops, a mother said, "I hope they use the word calm." I said, "Do you think they will?" She looked at me and said, "Nope. I've been yelling at them for 13 years, I don't think that's the first word they will use." Once you have a list of all the words you hope they will use, the other column is what words do you think they will actually use? Do you have a sense of how you come across? If the two lists are very, very different; parents have to say to themselves: How can I start to behave in a way where my child will see me the way I would like for them to see me? How we come across, how we are seen, is such a basic skill. That skill we call, empathy.

Robert Brooks, PhD Therapist and Author, explains how empathy is the most important skill that parents can have and shares what makes empathy in parents so important

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Robert Brooks, PhD

Therapist & Author

Dr. Robert Brooks is a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.  He has lectured nationally and internationally and written extensively about the themes of resilience, parenting, family relationships, school climate, and balancing our personal and professional lives. He is the author or co-author of 15 books and has also appeared in several videos pertaining to helping children to become more responsible, self-disciplined, hopeful, and resilient.

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