I've read that empathy can be taught. I have a student that could use some lessons. It's a lot easier, I'm thinking, when empathy is born into you.... and stays there.
Yesterday the 3-year-old in my care was unhappy with some tyrannical decision I had made (no TV? no running? who can recall?) and decided his anger was best expressed through the throwing of books off the bookshelf. No problem. Books need to be put back nicely or 3-year-old takes a seat in time out. He chose the latter. For the second time, 9-month-old heard the distress of his buddy and immediately began to cry, expressing a shared dismay for my Heavy Handed Tactics. Is it weird that this made me happy? Is it weird that it made me slightly envious? Three cheers for understanding and caring for the plight of others!
For our fella, I can't recall if empathy was obtained and lost. And I can't say that there is no empathy whatsoever. But I do know that the gas tank of empathy is usually on or very close to E. Role models are in good supply but seem to have little impact.
Big event today in our family life. We shall see if it is the start of a positive change.... Though as he gets older, I'm beginning to think that waxing about our struggles here is unfair. Maybe it's time for me to shut up or ask for permission. (Which means shutting up, I'm afraid.)