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Empathy with children begins with empathy for yourself

The child irritates you. He/she wants something impossible or is fighting a sibling. You don’t like it, you can’t stand it, and you react irritably. The child responds even more irritably and begins a typical domestic carousel of arguments and conflicts. After all, everyone feels bad and exhausted. Does that sound familiar to you?

If you answered yes, you would probably ask right away. What to do with that?

I suggest you take it as an opportunity and try the methodical empathy. Start consciously and intentionally developing empathy with your children.

But first I have to define what I mean by methodological empathy. Empathy is the ability to perceive another person’s reality from their point of view. It is the opposite of what we normally do in relation to others. 95% of us, 95% of the time listen to other people from our point of view, not from their point of view. To do so otherwise requires targeted intent, special effort and skills.

Most people assume that empathy is the kind of compassion that some people have, and others do not, or that it is an attitude or an intention. It’s non of it.

I have spoken many times about empathy as a new kind of perception gradually developing everywhere in the world. We haven’t had empathy since birth. There is no unconscious empathy. It can only arise with conscious intention. It’s a whole new ability. The word itself was first used in 1951. You will not find it in any dictionary before.

Your life chance to develop empathy!

Children are at home, bored, arguing over computers, eating endlessly, and having too much energy they can’t use. They stretch your patience to the brim. This is your life chance to develop empathy!


I have one basic recommendation for all tired mothers and fathers: Empathy with children, like all empathy, starts with empathy with oneself. Yes, I know it sounds like a contradiction, but it’s a fact. To understand people from their point of view, we must first understand ourselves at a deeper level. Only then can we begin to develop this new ability.

Let’s do it practically

 So, here’s a simple example mentioned in the introduction. The child irritates you, wants something impossible or fights with a brother or sister. You don’t like it, you can’t stand it, and you react irritably. Maybe aggressively. The child responds even more irritably and begins a typical domestic carousel of arguments and conflicts. After all, everyone feels bad and exhausted. This is normal.

Now, how to do Methodical empathy using Psychophonetics. The starting point is:

Stop! Stop yourself!

  • The normal, instinctive reaction must be stopped first. It’s boiling inside you. That’s a fact. But try to stop before you act on it. Before you explode. Inside or outside. Go somewhere else, go to another room or bathroom and close the door.
  • Instead of being controlled by your automatic reaction and dealing with your child under its influence, let for a moment the reaction control you, when no one is looking. At least symbolically express how you feel. Hand gestures, not words. Express with your body what is going on inside you.
  • Then get out of it. Really, take two or three steps in a different direction. Shake it. Every experience can be shaken from the body just like the dirt that is stuck to the coat.
  • Then look at the empty space where you expressed your reaction a minute ago. Imagine you are still there and you are doing it. It takes a certain amount of imagination. Not much, because the experience is still alive, is in the memory.

What you “see” will surprise you. You will see yourself in pain, suffering, under attack, rejected, blocked, and ignored. Maybe you will notice someone who is not your age. You may have a long-forgotten memory. You will realize that your reaction did not arise in what your child did, but in what your child subconsciously reminds you of!

Step One.

 Admit it! This is the first step. And you will see, just this simple step will make a huge difference! Then go back to the child. He/she will do the same. It hasn’t changed. But you have changed. You look at the child with new eyes. What he/she is doing is still not acceptable, and as a parent, you have to do something about it. But at this point, you can choose what to do.

And then you can start from a completely different end. You can show your child that you understand what he/she is feeling. Only there is the beginning of building a solution that is NOT just an automatic response, but a clear choice. Trust your intuition and act on it!

This is the best recommendation I can give you now. It will help you develop basic empathy with your children. There is much more we can do. But start with this! Try it!


We invite you
for a 3-hour online workshop

Why do I react to my child just as my parents did to me?
June 20, 2022

pôvodný text Yehuda Tagar
upravila Alena Pethöová a
Silvia Galatová