Teaching Compassion to Children

Teaching Compassion to Children
One of a mother's most formidable tasks and fervent hopes is teaching her child compassion. As diligently as she tries, it is difficult to help a child stand in another’s shoes. We want our children to understand the suffering, the feel the joy in someone else’s life, and to be empathetic to views outside of their own.

Why? The ability to be compassionate allows us to handle and manage our anger and fear more successfully. It helps us avoid getting stuck in reactivity. Compassion is a tool for moving through difficult and challenging moments with greater ease and peace.

When life is approached from a tender space, it is filled with deeper meaning. Sensitivity and concern expand understanding, tolerance, and kindness.

Teaching compassion to children might be the first step on the path, but – ultimately – we yearn to coach our children to be compassionate. The greatest teaching tool is action. Allowing your children to see you engaged in empathy and care is the best way for them to learn.

Give the gift of an experience Purchase gift certificates from fast food restaurants, and distribute them to the homeless. Most children have a reaction when they see a homeless person on the corner asking for help and find joy in being able to help.

Visit a nursing home and spend time with the elderly. In my town, we have a shelter that allows children to come and read to the children living in the shelter. Siblings who are too young to read are welcome to attend and listen to the stories as well.

Get involved Take advantage of school good deed projects or create your own. Host a clothes drive. Collect coats for families during the colder months. Adopt a family during the holidays. Write letters to soldiers. There are many easy opportunities to get involved in compassionate activities.

Opportunities for kindness The natural compassion of children can be nurtured. Teach your children to be kind to people, to objects, and to the Earth.

Treating others with kindness. Respect. Tolerance. Cooperation. Responsibility. These are all natural consequences of kindness. There are physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits to practicing kindness, and it is something you can practice and get better at.

Treating objects with kindness. Children can learn to take care of their toys and the toys of their friends. Teach them to put toys away and bring toys inside when they are done playing with them.

Treating the Earth with kindness: Recycle. It’s a simple way to begin to cultivate compassion for our world. Teach your children to turn lights off when they leave a room. When donating gently used clothes to others who need them, drop them off directly so your children can be a part of the experience.

We all hope our children will have that natural bone for empathy and compassion, but it surely doesn’t hurt to fill their lives with opportunities to witness, feel, and exude kindness.

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The Value of Humility

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