Imagine you are at the playground. Your friend goes down the slide too fast, falls off and gets hurt, and then begins to cry. Maybe you have fallen at the playground before, and you know exactly the pain your friend is feeling. You understand and care about their sadness and why they are crying. This is empathy.
Empathy is when you can imagine exactly how another person is feeling. When you care about being treated well, and you care about your friends, family and even strangers or characters in stories to be treated well too, you are practicing empathy. Whether sad or happy, angry or scared, excited or tired, people experience many emotions.
One way people can understand how others are feeling is by sharing stories. Every day, we talk to our friends and family, and we tell them how we are feeling. Maybe you tell your dad a story about a game you just won and how excited you are, your dad gives you a high-five and says how excited he is for you! Maybe you tell your mom that you are sad because you lost your favorite toy and she gives you a big hug and tells you that she knows how you feel and is very sad for you, too. These stories explain emotion and help other people understand how we are feeling.
When a person puts himself or herself in another person’s shoes, or when he or she tries to imagine how another person must feel about something, that is empathy. The more we show people empathy, the more friendship and trust we can build with others.