Home » Blogs » Mental Health Humor » Empathy Or Sympathy Or Just Apathy: Is Aggressive Behavior Caused By Paddling? [Trigger Warning] (Part 2)

Empathy Or Sympathy Or Just Apathy: Is Aggressive Behavior Caused By Paddling? [Trigger Warning] (Part 2)

I have seen a lot of things while shopping, but what I was about to witness would shock even me. A mother (or caregiver) administer an aggressive public corporal/physical punishment /beating /spanking / paddling of a child in front of about 15 people…

Empathy Or Sympathy Or Apathy?

You may feel sorry or sympathy for a child that is crying or fussing. Every child is going to get fussy shopping now and again. The lights, the hustle/bustle, and noisy activity can be scary. If you ask any parent what is the worst part of parenting besides cleaning diapers, and feelings of helplessness when they are sick…Going shopping with the tired and fussy child might make that list!

The Little Boy in the shopping cart in the store cried as long as I was in the store.  I was there for about 45 minutes already when I made my way up to the check outline. So this little guy was stuck in the shopping cart all that while crying and wailing inconsolably. I felt bad for both the mother (or caregiver I only assumed it was the mother) and the little guy.

I wanted to do something to help.  So when the long checkout line opened with a second cashier, I allowed her to go ahead of me and I asked the person in front of me to allow her to cut in front of them. They happily said yes.  Still, I wanted to do more.  I was making funny faces at the little guy and he stopped crying for a bit, even got a smirk and smile.  There were about 15 people there, and for some unknown reason, the woman’s order took some time to process.

The little guy wanted out, “up. up”. he screams and is crying, and the mother or caregiver seemed to be doing what she could, but he just wants out of the store carriage. And just as the transaction was over and he was finally going to get the attention he desperately needed…The mother pushed the cart up to the door then when she could lovingly pick up the child to comfort him. Instead, She exploded and beat the kid with 3 or 4 full-power-swing paddle-like smacks on the boy’s back and backside!

I immediately gasped out loud and I’m sure the mother could hear my NO! NO! That’s not what you do Mom! She just walked out of the door.

The mother did not snap, this mother did not reach a threshold to stress and kapow! This is just how the mother or caregiver felt it was necessary to discipline the child still in diapers who was tired. I personally don’t think this kind of aggressive behavior…smacking and paddling any infant or child works. It NEVER works for a child that does not understand why he/she is getting hit. The child learns that hitting is how to solve problems.

The fact she did so publicly and so effortlessly was a bit scary! What will she do the kid behind a closed door?

I wanted to do more than speak up from the line I was in at the store. I had two people in front of me and she was gone before I got outside. I was feeling helpless. What more could I do? What more should I do?

Have you ever been in a situation similar to this? Can you empathize with me, people in line or the with the mother/caregiver? Do you feel sympathy for the child or does this kind of thing happen so much that it’s none of our business?  Should we care? Have total apathy toward the whole thing?

Remember I asked in part one, that after you read “Is Aggressive Behavior Caused By Paddling” post…which of the three feelings: Empathy, Sympathy, or Apathy did the story of The Little Boy in the Shopping Cart invoke most? Feel free to comment, to share your thoughts, and maybe an idea on how to handle a situation like this (if it ever was to happen again).

(Part 1| Part 2)

Can You Learn Empathy?

“A new study from Japan shows that children who receive positive attention and care from their parents have high incomes, high happiness levels, academic success, and a strong sense of morality” ~ *Parenting Methods Shown to Impact Outcomes for Kids.

Mental Health Humor and psychological disorder humor and cartoons by Chato Stewart Anger Ping Pong Table Tennis Aggressive

Mental Health Humor

Ping Pong Paddle: I can’t take this anymore, are we ping-pong or table tennis??? ARRRrrr

Ping Pong Ball: I DON’T KNOW!

Caption: Is Aggressive Behavior Caused By Paddling?


  • Empathy: the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else’s feelings.
  • Sympathy: the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else’s trouble, grief, misfortune.
  •  Apathy: the feeling of not having much emotion or interest : an apathetic state.

(Part 1| Part 2)

Chato Stewart

Empathy Definition © 2015. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved on June 10, 2016, from  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy
Sympathy Definition © 2015. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved on June 10, 2016, from  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sympathy
Apathy Definition © 2015. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved on June 10, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apathy

Wood, J. (2016). Parenting Methods Shown to Impact Outcomes for Kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 21, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2016/06/18/parenting-methods-shown-to-impact-outcomes-for-kids/104952.html

Empathy Or Sympathy Or Just Apathy: Is Aggressive Behavior Caused By Paddling? [Trigger Warning] (Part 2)

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels). [email protected]

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APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2016). Empathy Or Sympathy Or Just Apathy: Is Aggressive Behavior Caused By Paddling? [Trigger Warning] (Part 2). Psych Central. Retrieved on June 24, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/humor/2016/06/empathy-vs-sympathy-apathy-2/


Last updated: 20 Jun 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Jun 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.