The essence of empathizing with your child is to realize that they are real people with real choices.
Parents often only see the right choice, or the one they want their children to make, they just don’t see the alternative. Or they don’t take the alternative seriously. That’s because from where you are standing, the alternative makes no sense.
Discounting any alternative to your opinion (whether it makes sense or not) may be an effective strategy at work, but as you are learning, it doesn’t work with the kids. When it comes to your children, you have to really empathize with them, if you want them to take you seriously.
You have to be able to see and understand the attractiveness of their alternative and why it is so appealing to them. This is no small thing. Children often complain that parents (read: fathers) don’t understand them, and that’s often true.
Part of the problem is your child is a moving target, Thomas-the-Tank may make their day when they were six years old, but by seven they have moved on to Lego. The trouble is, not only don’t you realize that, but you don’t know what they have moved on to.
But the real trick, is to see where you want your child to be and the choices they will need to make to get them there — this is the 2nd edge of empathy.