What good is unlimited knowledge without compassion? Compassion is seeing yourself through the eyes of another, and caring for them as though you are personally involved in their situation. Compassion will help your child to reach out to those who need encouragement and love. When your child becomes an adult, their compassion will give them the ability to change the world, even a little bit at a time. Here are a few tips to help.
We can best teach our children to be compassionate by being compassionate ourselves. Explain to your child the importance of compassion while you live the example for them. As you take the opportunity to extend a helping hand to those in need of it, speak with your children about why you are making the choice to help and to care. This will give your child both the example and the understanding.
As our kids grow older their vocabulary grows as well. They become more capable of communicating emotions. Talking about book characters is a good way to explore feelings. Doesn’t matter which book you choose, characters all have feelings and this might be a good starting point for a conversation with your child about feelings. In the book Snow White, for example you might ask, “Why do you think the witch was jealous of Snow White?” Don’t pass up opportunities to talk about feelings.
I watched cartoons as a kid. My favorite was Road Runner. I can still remember nearly every episode. Children don’t just watch television, they internalize it, and they don’t really understand irony. Be careful of what they’re memorizing. If the characters on television are hitting each other, blowing things up or calling each other names, shut off the television or in the very least, talk about what’s going on. Make sure your child knows what is not appropriate and the difference between television and real life.
When it comes to your child’s responsibility to be caring and compassionate, set your standards high. Don’t let teasing or bullying go unchallenged. It’s been determined that children at 7 and 8 years old are just starting to be able to see the world from another person’s perspective. In a complicated and troubled world, it’s easy to feel that nothing we do will make a difference. This can lead to compassion burnout—for us and for our kids. The key is to start small.
The habit of helping others starts with chores at home. Children love to feel capable, so assign age appropriate tasks like setting the table or feeding a pet. Make a schedule and put it in a place easily accessible so your child can keep track of what needs to be done. Now, chores are not going to be your kid’s favorite thing. Make sure that they understand that as a family unit when they complete their chores they are helping the family. By helping the family, they are also helping themselves.
It might seem that if you want to raise a compassionate, caring child, you just have to be a compassionate, caring parent. But that’s not enough. Even the most nurturing, loving parenting requires firm limits on behavior, or you’ll get very self-centered children. Make unacceptable behavior, like hitting, always unacceptable—even if it’s your child’s birthday. If something is wrong it has to be wrong all the time. Beverly Jones-Durr is an Author, Dynamic Speaker, Certified Life Purpose Coach and Educational Facilitator. She is founder of Every Child Has a Story which is home to The Writer’s Vibe and Speech Crafters Club – “The Only Public Speaking Club for Kids and Teens in Alabama!” Beverly empowers young people to command their voice, feelings, ideals, energy and intellect and use all of that to boost their communication skills. Speech Crafters Club is a safe place for members age 8 and up to explore creativity and enhance their communication skills. What’s the back door benefits? We’re building and enhancing Self Esteem and Self Confidence one child at a time! The Writer’s Vibe empowers kids to use words to write stories only they can write and become stellar wordsmiths whose talents will no doubt someday change the world. The Writers Vibe program launches in 2017. Check us out and prepare to be amazed! You can also follow Beverly 0n Twitter, FaceBook and Pinterest