This article is about teaching your child empathy.
Last week I was sick; super sick, started out with a sinus infection. I also have a broken molar and hadn’t thought much about the broken tooth.
It didn’t bother me, and since I’m terrified of the dentist, I wasn’t about to make a trip there over something that wasn’t even causing me any trouble.
However, said sinus infection moved into a said broken molar. Hand to God, the worst pain I’ve ever been in, and I’ve given birth completely un-medicated.
Was literally on my bathroom floor, in the fetal position, begging for death or an assortment of illegal substances to dull my pain. I felt like I was dying. All of this took place with my 3-year-old daughter at home.
No parent ever wants their child to see them upset, much less puddled on the bathroom floor bawling your eyes out, barely able to speak coherently.
So, my husband did his best to entertain her wandering mind, and if she happened to make her way to the bathroom door I shooed her off quickly.
I was just imagining how she would react. Just knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it would scar her deeply to see me in such a state.
I could see her sitting in therapy 20 years from now saying “It all started when I was 3 years old and I found my mother blubbering on the bathroom floor.” I just wasn’t prepared for that kind of guilt!
My Child Empathy
But, as I’ve said before, my child has the determination of a Navy Seal. After a couple of hours, she just wasn’t having any more of it.
She charged into that bathroom like a mad bull. Upon throwing the door open, she discovered me in my pitiful state.
Since “sucking it up” wasn’t an option for me at the time I prepared myself for the worst. My mind was too hazed with pain to even come up with an excuse.
But like she always does, she surprised me. Her whole demeanor changed. Instead of that raging bull, she turned into my little mother hen.
She knelt down on the floor beside me and grabbed a big wad of toilet paper. Leaning towards me, ever so gently, she dabbed at my tears.
“Here momma, let me wipe up the tears. Are you okay? Are you sick? It’s okay, momma. I’m right here. You need sumpin’?”
All the while she’s gently patting my back with the freehand that’s not wiping up my snot. Pain or not, my heart melted.
I got myself to the doctor that afternoon and got some legal substances to help with the pain and infection. And yes, I scheduled a dentist appointment.
But, I just keep thinking back to that morning, and I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of pride. I’ve taught this child something wonderful.
While she’s determined, and intense, and overly independent, she’s also so very kind, compassionate, and caring. She saw her mother in a bad situation and only wanted to help. She didn’t panic.
I think we’ve dodged the therapy bullet. She just did what I’ve always done for her. She cared for me.
Oftentimes, as parents, we get so lost in the things that society deems important. Is your 3-year old singing their ABCs? Can your 4 years old do basic math skills? Can your 6 years old explain quantum physics?!
To make sure that our children are up to par, we forget about the small things. But, every time you kiss their scraped knee, you’re teaching them something.
Every time you cuddle them through the night, nurse a fever, comfort them through a stomach bug, you’re teaching them something that no one else can.
By simply being a parent, you’re teaching your child empathy. You’re teaching them how to care for someone in need and remain calm and handle a tough situation with grace.
Even quantum physics can’t teach your child such a valuable, incomparable lesson. That’s all you.
You can also read: Life Skills: 8 Skills They Didn’t Teach In School
My name is Andrea Thompson and I’m a home based freelance writer. I’m 23 years old, married to my best friend, and mother to a wonderfully independent and opinionated 3 year old girl and step-mother to a sweet seven year old boy. I live in a tiny, little town in Kentucky, where I spend my free time fishing with my kids.
Writing has always been my passion, which I followed through high school, and for a while in college. Life happened, and once I discovered we were pregnant, I switched directions; opting for the healthcare industry because of the stability.
Finally, years later, I was in a place where I could leave the day job that never truly made me happy, and pursue my dreams. I’ve built, and am still building, my writing career from scratch. But, I’m passionate and I’m good at what I do. And, in the end, I can prove to my daughter that she can do anything she wants with this life.