Sydney: Children whose mothers have a compassionate outlook are more likely to act in a similar way.

New research from the Telethon Institute and the University of Western Australia shows that parents have an important role to play in teaching their children to understand another person's feelings and point of view.

'We found that mothers who have higher levels of empathy were more likely to encourage their children to think how others might be feeling,' said Brad Farrant from the Telethon Institute, who led the study, based on four-to-six-year-old children.

Farrant said children with more advanced perspective-taking skills behave more positively with other people, reports the journal Infant and Child Development.

'This could be as simple as asking the child to think about why another child might be angry with them,' Farrant said, according to a Telethon statement.

The results were drawn from a study of children from three primary schools in Perth's Western and Southern suburbs.