Toddler Empathy Warms My Heart

I’ve always wondered about how one would teach one’s child empathy.  I kind of figured that it would be something that children would learn as they started to realize that other people had feelings, too.  Or, you know, I guess during one of those special moments of toddler awareness or something.  Last night, I had a beautiful moment of toddler empathy that just…  Wow.  It almost made me a little teary.

You see, Norton doesn’t really pay much attention to Eudora.  (Okay, he’s gotten better about paying attention to where she is after he stepped on her, but not much in the way of interaction.)  Sure, she watches him and is absolutely amazed by all the things that her big brother can do, but he’s just not terribly interested in his little sister.  So you could imagine my shock when that moment of toddler empathy went to his baby sister.

Norton was watching Sesame Street.  Eudora was rolling around on the floor with a blanket.  She’d been fed, she’d been changed, and I wasn’t really sure what she wanted, but she was crying and I had my hands full.  Norton noticed his sister crying instead of tuning it out in favor of Elmo.  He turned away from the TV and walked over to Eudora.  I bit my lip as I watched, unable to go save Eudora from being stepped on or whatever was in store.

Instead of stepping on her, tripping over her, or any other unkind behavior, he did something surprising.  He stopped in front of her, bent down a bit, and patted her on the head.

It was the first bit of attention that he’d paid her in quite some time.  It was beautiful.  Even recounting the moment now makes me a bit teary.

I’m hoping that there will be more of these moments in the future.  Or at least more acknowledgement that his little sister exists.  For now, though, I’ll take the moments of toddler empathy that I can get, and I’ll treasure them.  Maybe it’ll lead up to sibling bonding and other forms of affection.

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. That made me cry.

  2. It will! My little guy didn’t open up to his baby sister for quite a while. Today they are 3 and 1 and are bonding all over the place! i just wrote about empathy the other day. My baby showed her big brother so much kindness during an anxiety attack he was having. One of my proudest moments as a parent. It was amazing to watch. I loved this post 🙂

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge