The emotionally charged performance of the Koi Boys when they sang “Let It Be” in their battle with Daniel Shaw on The Voice earlier this week touched so many hearts.

They dedicated the song to the families and communities affected by the Christchurch shooting earlier this year when a lone gunman killed 51 people and injured a further 49.  (See the video of their performance below.)

You may have felt like me as you sat at home watching with tears in your eyes, and sharing their heart-felt emotions.  I really felt for Kelly who had trouble speaking through her tears.   And what about poor kind-hearted Delta? She left the stage sobbing and had to compose herself before making her difficult choice about which act to take with her into the finals.

The Koi Boys affected us all because of their wonderful ability to convey their emotions and our empathy as we totally understood and felt what they were going through.

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings of others.  Empathy is also defined as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

When we have empathy for someone else’s problems that really helps us to understand what the other person is going through.  That, in turn, helps us connect on a deeper level so that together we can come up with better solutions.   And that is so important as life is becoming more and more complex and humanity as a whole is facing some pretty drastic challenges like terrorism and an increasingly damaged environment.

boy-crying-750

What you can do as a parent to help your kids develop more empathy?

The best way for you as a parent to help your kids develop more of this very important trait is to model it to them and be the example of what you’d like them to be.

When your child tells you about a problem, make sure you:

  1.             Are present – stop the chatter inside your own head about what you’re going to cook for dinner tonight, or thinking about what your reply is going to be.   Clear your mind and really focus on your child as they are talking about what’s bothering them.  When you fully focus on someone as they’re talking you often pick up very valuable clues about what else might be going on.   That can help you come up with a better solution to their problem.
  2.             Listen actively – when we listen actively to our kids, we not only hear their words but we also look for meaning behind their words.   We show we are listening intently by making eye contact, by using encouraging words such as ‘ah ha’, ‘really?’, ‘go on’, ‘and then what happened?’.   When they finish talking, summarise what they have told you so they know you really have been listening, or alternatively ask them a question based on what they have already told you.
  3.             Use your imagination - as they are telling you their story, activate your senses and imagination.  Allow yourself to feel their feelings and picture the sounds and sights as they’re telling you their story.  That will really help you put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are experiencing.

What do you already do to help your child develop their empathy? Tell us in the comments below.

About the Author

Anky is an experienced positive parenting trainer and life coach with over 10 years’ experience and 15 positive psychology, positive parenting and life coaching related qualifications.  She has helped many families and individuals achieve positive outcomes in life including improved family harmony and relationships,  work/life balance, and health.
Visit www.facebook.com/cohesivecoaching to get in touch.


  • Their performance truly touched my heart! Empathy is indeed a wonderful gift – sometimes I feel I feel too much and can cry at the drop of a hat over other peoples circumstances and predicaments!

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  • This was beautiful. Empathy is so incredible important.

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  • I’m absolutely addicted to the Voice this year! The amount of talent is ridiculous! I don’t want it to end! Yes, empathy is oh so important.

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  • I haven’t seen any of the voice but it’s so important to foster empathy.

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  • I wanted to watch but missed out sorry would have been a real tear jerker

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  • I did not watch the episode.

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  • Ive rewritten what I want to say so many times. Empathy is very important for us to teach. Hubby is empathetic, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. Me… I struggle with it, but I know how to listen attentively and convey empathy effectively thanks to studying psychology. But true empathy, not so much. It’s a very important social and personal skill in life. Relationships are difficult when you can’t emphasise with friends or family.

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  • I think it’s so important to teach our kids to be empathetic towards others, and I hope my son learns this as he grows

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  • As others have said, too much empathy can be a problem too. It can cause one to stop socialising and not get close to anyone because they feel too much. It’s tricky. As long as the extra sensitive people get support and learn how to cope and understand and develop ways to survive in this world. People will take advantage, and people can and do fake empathy or being kind etc to get what they want. I don’t watch this show, as another said it’s very staged. They are acting to create the best performance, so it can be hard to get caught up in it. I’d have to see the other performances I think. Plus I’m a huge Beatles fan (I saw Sir Paul McCartney last year!), so I’m already biased with covers haha!

    • Ha ha yes you would be. I do understand about the stagedness of the show and others reality and talent shows. I only watch some seasons because of it but I really like the positive encouragement and support that’s shown. A nice change from the news and nasty reality TV shows which are based on negative sensation and criticism. I agree with people being manipulative at times with empathy but luckily life experience can help us weed that out. I look at people’s words and how their actions align
      as well as their body language. It’s not 100% fail proof but it helps :-).


      • Ha ha yes you would be. I do understand about the stagedness of the show and others reality and talent shows. I only watch some seasons because of it but I really like the positive encouragement and support that’s shown. A nice change from the news and nasty reality TV shows which are based on negative sensation and criticism. I agree with people being manipulative at times with empathy but luckily life experience can help us weed that out. I look at people’s words and how their actions align as well as their body language. It’s not 100% fail proof but it helps :-).

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  • Didn’t see this, but empathy is certainly very important to teach our children.

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  • Have not seen this season’s shows. Watched the clip and yes very emotional. Yes more need to teach or show their children more empathy as this world is changing so much.

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  • Didn’t watch the show I’m afraid – most of it is so stage managed, I can’t be bothered.


    • I preferred the show when it first started.

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  • Unfortunately I missed the show. Understanding there reason for their choice of song watching the video definitely stirred me emotionally. I have the sniffles

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  • I didn’t cry but I found it very emotional.

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  • One of my kids is so empathetic I worry he’ll be taken advantage of, but it’s not a trait I want to squash.

    • Yes you’re right, don’t squash it. Help him put some boundaries in place if you can, and explain that you can’t fix other people’s problems if they’re not prepared to do the work themselves. I had to learn that through life experience and it means you can still be empathetic but you don’t take the responsibility of fixing other people on your own shoulders. I use the expression “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” :-)

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