Parenting Resources

Toddlers, Forgiveness & Empathy

Toddlers between 18 and 24 months of age are learning they are different from other people.  These toddlers are just beginning to understand that other children and adults may have different feelings and thoughts – and they are definitely aware when another person demonstrates intense emotions, such as crying and sadness. 

Although they may not be able to articulate words for their emotions, they understand “sad”, “happy”, “disappointed”, and in previous newsletters we have encouraged you to use these emotion words with your young children.  This is the beginning of empathy – which is one of the stepping stones towards forgiveness.  Remember toddlers learn by imitating others – so be a good role model.

  • Use emotion words with your toddler.  “I see you are disappointed you can’t have the cookie.”
  • Empathize with your toddler“Oh, are you afraid of the loud fire engine siren?”  I will stand with you so you won’t get hurt.”
  • Point out how other children and adults are feeling“I think Sarah is sad she doesn’t have a toy to play with.” 
  • Demonstrate how to help others. “Joey fell and hurt his leg.  Let’s find a bandaid for him.”
  • Use the word “forgive” in your conversations“I know you didn’t mean to spill the milk.  I forgive you.”
  • Use the words “I’m sorry” in your conversations“I didn’t mean to knock over your blocks.  I’m sorry I did that.”

For more information on teaching children forgiveness