At what age does empathy start? - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > At what age does empathy start?
Jodi's Avatar Jodi 05:16 PM 07-20-2002
I am not sure if I should be worried about my 8-year-old stepson. I have known him since he was 2 and I have never known him to care about anyone else. I didn't expect it before but by this age, I would think that he could acknowledge that others have feelings. When my 8-mos-old daughter is crying from teething or bumping her head, he tells her to be quiet and that her crying is bothering him or he calls her a bad girl. She is always bad if she's crying, no matter what the reason. I was having a bad day once and crying and he didn't even ask what was wrong, he just turned up the TV louder. He never wants to help anyone out, only if he is going to get paid for it. I could understand his behavior if he was neglected as a child but it was quite the opposite. I think his mom is a big problem because she tells him he is better than anyone and he has that attitude all the time. He has recieved everything he ever wanted and he is never satisified. He also lies very often. I am not sure what to do. Empathy and helping others is very important to me and he is very far from that. Am I expecting too much from him for his age?

anythingelse's Avatar anythingelse 09:49 PM 07-20-2002
He sounds like an 8 year old suffering with low self esteem. It sounds like he is disconnected to you and baby as well. Maybe it is time for some family counseling since he needs help finding his new place in the family as big brother. Once he works through his being disconnected to others, he will likely stop some of the negative behavior. I would not blame his mom, he has a lot on his plate for a kid to deal with. Hard to compete with a new baby and IMO 8 years old is a rough time for a boy regardless.
Britishmum's Avatar Britishmum 11:35 PM 07-20-2002
I agree with Vanna's mom, he sounds like there are some issues that cause the behaviours that you are describing. I'd seek some family counselling (it's never just the child who has 'issues' - it is the whole complex family relationship that needs examining.)

Hope you find some support and help!
merpk's Avatar merpk 03:44 PM 07-26-2002
What does DH have to say about this? Or is he aware of it?

- Amy
SueDid's Avatar SueDid 12:01 AM 08-08-2002
I agree with the others, sounds like there are some issues there that need to be explored...or he is used to everything revolving around him and miffed that it no longer does.

Our children have shown some empathy as young as 18-24 many times have we all seen a toddler unhappy and tugging on Mom's (or someone else's) sleeve because a baby is crying. Or they pat your back and hug you if they think you're sad.

I hope you're able to find out what's going on with him and an easy solution to help!