The Visible Empathy of Infants and Toddlers - Essay Example

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The Visible Empathy of Infants and Toddlers" attempts to prove that infants and toddlers show empathy through an observational study. This study takes place in a lab school in a university setting. The lab school had an ethnically diverse population of students, three months to six years of age…
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The Visible Empathy of Infants and Toddlers
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"The Visible Empathy of Infants and Toddlers" attempts to prove that infants and toddlers show empathy through an observational study. This study takes place in a lab school in a university setting. The lab school had an ethnically diverse population of students, three months to six years of age. The authors define empathy at the infant and toddler age as "the capacity to observe the feelings of another and to respond with care and concern for that other." In the study, the method used to record information is called pedagogical documentation. This method uses photographs of children, samples of their work, recorded children's conversations and the recorded thoughts of their teachers to collect data. There are three forms of empathy that were observed: proximal empathy, altruistic empathy, and self corrective empathy. Proximal empathy happens when a child notices an upset classmate nearby and shows concern for her. This often happened when children were playing in a center together. An example of proximal empathy that was observed was when a child hurt her finger at a center. The other child at the center touches her hand, says "ouch" and looks for a teacher. Altruistic empathy happens when a child notices an upset classmate from across the classroom and offers comfort or care for the other child. An example that was observed in the study was when a little boy came into the center in a bad mood. A classmate brought him a favorite toy to comfort him. Extended altruistic empathy was also observed. This happened when one child reacted thoughtfully to the hurt of another child when none of the other children in the classroom observed the problem. Self corrective empathy was the last form of empathy that was observed. This happens when one child hurts another child, then offers care or comfort towards the hurt child afterward. This was observed in the classroom when a boy was stringing spools. A classmate approached and tried to join him. The boy pulled the string away, but relented and allowed the other child to play with him when she started to cry. He even offered encouragement to her as they worked together to string the spools. The study found that the empathy that the children displayed was fostered through high quality adult/child relationships and interactions and from modeling from teachers and family members. Throughout the study, solid proof is given that infants and toddlers are capable of showing empathy. Read More
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