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Who's Responsible for Building Empathy During The First Few Years Of Life

Many people seem to agree that the world needs a whole lot more empathy.

Many people are also aware of the importance of nurturing the brain during the first few years of life. If you need a refresher course on brain development in early childhood, see this Harvard University website from The Center on The Developing Child by clicking on the photo of the brain below. Here's a quote from Harvard:

In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second. After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, which allows brain circuits to become more efficient. In light of these findings, focusing on early childhood only makes sense. -Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University-

So Harvard tells us when to focus our efforts and if you poke around on the site, they also tell us what to do with young children. It's really fascinating material and they've done a good job of developing short videos that explain it all to regular people with short attention spans for complicated scientific principles like me.

Thanks, Harvard! Caring for children during the first few years of life is a huge and awesome responsibility. (We're still waiting for the huge and awesome paycheck to go along with it.)

In light of this current research, shouldn't the:

Stay At Home Parent

Childcare Provider

Infant Teacher

Toddler Teacher

Baby Room Attendant

Early Head Start Teacher



And others

be given a lot more respect than they are? According to Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, UW Madison:

Young children need stable, strong, supportive relationships with caring confident, capable caregivers around them in order for developmental milestones to move forward. Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, University of Wisconsin, Madison

So there you have it! You matter a lot more than society's given you credit for.

All this talk about building empathy is great but what happens when children in your care show unempathetic behaviors?

How do we correct and teach them without seeming unempathetic ourselves?

What if they hit, whine, tattle, or talk back?

Get more of the exact words to use when dealing with common childhood issues like cleaning up, tattling, or positive communication in this slideshow we designed for early childhood educators and parents.

Early Childhood Rocks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the world through early childhood education

Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in

2010. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.

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