Empathy supports the development of emotional self-awareness. When we, as parents, regularly empathize with our kids, we help them experience their emotions as appropriate to the situation and allow them to own their feelings without shame. We normalize feelings, help them understand that most people would feel the same way in a similar situation, and that’s its ok to feel different emotions. We assist them to develop language for identifying and expressing their emotions, which are lifelong tools to process feelings. When parents provide empathy to their children, children internalize empathy for themselves, and can then offer it to other people. Pretty important, right?! The earlier we start, the more practice your child gets, which could potentially lead to more manageable teenage years (yes, please!) The next time your child becomes emotional, which should be in the next 15 minutes, you can say something like “I imagine you’re feeling frustrated because I flushed the toilet, when you really wanted to flush the toilet. Is that what you’re feeling? Frustrated with me? That makes sense, and I would feel the same way.” Mindfully practice empathizing with your kids, and notice the impact it has. Empathy breeds empathy, start at home, and it will trickle out into your community.