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How Toddlers Learn Empathy

It can be a sweet surprise to see your "all about me" toddler tuning in to others' needs, patting someone's boo-boo, or befriending the new kid.

And you can thank yourself for her newfound empathy, says Elizabeth Berger, M.D., author of Raising Kids With Character. If you hug her when she's down, or reassure her when she faces a challenge, she'll learn to do the same for someone else.

To boost her budding sensitivity, praise her the next time she considers someone else's feelings. But don't be surprised if her compassion is fleeting. Toddlers are quick to refocus on themselves  -- so they still need lots of your compassion.