Tips to Teach Kids Compassion and Tolerance

Tips to Teach Kids Compassion and Tolerance

First and foremost leave your prejudices’ outside of the door. If you don’t want your kid to say it, you should not say it. This is not to say that kids will not repeat what they here their peers say. But do not allow your own prejudice what ever it may be, race, religion, social status; or the way you view the opposite sex, to color your child’s view of the world.


Early on, most parents teach their children to “play nice” and to “be nice.” Often these words are uttered by rote as they hurry through their day. Do the words fall on deaf ears? I think not, otherwise you would not find so many adults remembering and talking about these long ago simple, but powerful utterances.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” falls into that same category. I don’t know if that is a proper bible quote, but it is how I member hearing it. However, I do know that words can inspire children towards two directions; one is a lifetime of sharing and caring. As we all know there is no guarantee that a start in the right direction means that children will stay the positive course their parents have started. Be assured that it does increase the odds that your children will become caring and compassionate adults.


Bullying is at an all-time high. Bully boys and mean girls have taken on a whole new meaning. Sadly, it is not only in playgrounds, it is now in cyberspace. Parents can no longer confront little Billy and talk to his parents face-to-face. Today’s headlines draw attention to the reality of children and adults who live daily without caring or compassion for others. If you are lucky and can confront the bully, the response may be, “It was just a joke.” If you are not so lucky, you may be met with cold eye and silence. This is not the life you want for your child. Someone who is a bully as a child and not stopped will become a bullying adult. We have all seen these people and try to avoid them when possible at all costs.

What can you do, can you change a child’s behavior? Can you really teach your child to be more compassionate? Perhaps. However, parents must look to their own behavior as well as their child’s. Are you pushy, competitive in all things and unforgiving? Do you ‘borrow’ office supplies then brag that Thomas won’t say anything, if he knows what’s good for him? Is your child simply mimicking your actions, just in a more aggressive way? Perhaps because he/she has not yet learned the subtlety of a sly slap. Bullying is often about one-upmanship , any way you look at it.


The first thing you can do is to give your kid a hug. Babies thrive a strong parent/caregiver bond. It does not matter who that caregiver is. The simple truth is without a strong parental/caregiver bond, a child may grow up seemingly cold and uncaring. If you dig deeper it may be that he feels something (love, compassion) is missing from his life.

When you do find out that your child has committed a minor act of bullying, for instance, pushing a school mate down, taking lunch, etc. talk to him, ask him why he did such a thing. Explain that this behavior is not acceptable. Punish him if it is called for, but do not stop talking to him or shut him out of your life, even for a short time. Don’t forget to let him know that he is forgiven at the same time you pass on your punishment.

It is interesting to learn that forgiveness in the home can reduce bullying behaviors. A study published in the Journal of Social Issues* looks at how young people who have been put in the bullies category are treated in their home. Examined was the act or potential of forgiveness and or reconciliation. Did it help in reducing the recurrence of bullying behaviors?

Approximately 2,000 Bengali youths were studied, and the researchers found that parental forgiveness and reconciliation help promote shame management and reduce incidences of bullying. The study also found that traditional punishments, such as suspension or expulsion could increase bullying tendencies because the children are then excluded from social connections, which can then trigger inappropriate modes of shame management.

The study’s authors say that bullies should be held accountable for their actions, but they also need to be reintegrated into social groups. However, researchers also say that when showing forgiveness and reconciliation, that parents should be careful not to downplay the harm that has been done. He needs to understand that he has hurt or caused discomfort to another human being.

A reminder that children learn from us. See Related Links to help your youngsters become well-rounded.

Journal of Social Issues

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