Because the foundation for empathy is understanding of emotions, the first teaching step helps your child develop an awareness of emotions and develop a feeling vocabulary. He'll need this skill to successfully identify a wide variety of emotions, so he can tune in to the feelings of others.
The second step provides way to enhance your child's sensitivity to other people's feelings so that he'll become more aware of their needs and concerns.
The last step helps expands your child's awareness of perspectives other than his own. Only then will he really be able to step into other people's shoes and feel with them. These three steps increase empathic capabilities that your child will need to face a world that too often stresses apathy, coldness, cruelty and self-centeredness.
Steps 2 and 3 are for older kids, but it's never too early to talk to your children about their own feelings and help them make sense of them. My next post in the Empathy series will be about this. Stay tuned.