Parental responsiveness to children's emotions is an important part of child development. Parents who are able to offer moments of empathic understanding not only help reduce their children's anxious, sad, or angry feelings, but make them feel understood. This helps children learn to manage emotions and handle future disappointments.
There has been some debate about contemporary parenting and over-indulging children's emotions. However, empathy helps teach children that feelings matter; when they believe their feelings matter, they begin to recognize the value of others' feelings as well. This awareness promotes appropriate behaviors, positive relationships, and self restraint.
An article was recently published in Psychology Today about this very topic. It is an excellent summary of the empathy debate and speaks to the value of empathic parenting. Check it out for yourself and see where you stand.
Empathy Is Not Indulgence