University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Exploring early childhood practitioners’ perceptions of empathy with children and families: initial findings

Hodgkins, Angela ORCID: (2022) Exploring early childhood practitioners’ perceptions of empathy with children and families: initial findings. Educational Review. ISSN Print: 0013-1911 Online: 1465-3397

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This paper explores initial results from phase one of a research project examining early childhood practitioners’ (ECP) perceptions of empathy within their practice. Empathy is widely understood as the ability to understand others’ feelings, to see things through other people’s eyes, imagining what it would be like to be that person in that situation. It is widely accepted that anyone working with young children should have excellent empathy skills. However, although there is an abundance of published research on the role of empathy within nursing and social work, and limited research in the education profession, there is scarcely any research of empathy within ECP practice. This paper presents initial findings from Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) research with a sample of nine ECPs working in the UK, research which is derived from ongoing PhD study. Participants were asked to keep reflective diaries of their empathic interactions, and these were followed up with semi-structured interviews to further investigate responses. The study has revealed a range of definitions of empathy and found evidence of high levels of empathy and emotion within the practice. A second phase of research aims to examine types of empathy and the effect of emotional labour on practitioners.

Item Type: Article
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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Empathy, early childhood practitioner, emotion
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
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Copyright Info: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Depositing User: Angela Hodgkins
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2022 08:54
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2022 08:55

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