The 16-year-old was expecting anger and confrontation when he came home more than an hour late for supper.
"It wasn't my fault. We just got busy at Danny's house and I forgot about the time and my cell phone died." He was ready to offer more excuses, but his mother just nodded.
"That must have been frustrating. But we can talk more later when I'm feeling calmer and thinking more clearly," his mother responded. "I'm just glad you are home and I can stop worrying about you."
"Did you save me some dinner?"
"Oh, no. But you can make yourself a sandwich," she offered.
In a few minutes her son came looking for her. "Did you guys have brownies?"
"Did you save me some?"
"Not really. We had some extra, but we thought Mrs. Peterson next-door might enjoy them, so we shared the brownies with her."
"I really like your brownies," he offered plaintively.
"I know," his mother responded with sincerity.
At the Love and Logic Institute, we teach parents and teachers to connect with empathy before solving problems with our children, before imposing consequences for their behavior, or before getting into an argument with them. Pausing to connect with empathy takes the anger and resistance out of many situations, and helps us avoid the angry words which damage relationships.
Empathy is the ability to notice what other people feel. Empathy leads to the social skills and personal relationships which make our lives rich and beautiful, and it is something we can help our children learn. Bob Sornson's newest book, Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy, teaches young children the value of noticing how other people feel. We're hoping that many parents read it with their children.
Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.