With the world going through so many troubling times, it is incredibly important to fill our specific corners of the world with as much love, kindness, and compassion that we can. Even the smallest acts of compassion can have a huge ripple effect. Compassion needs to be taught and modeled – and as a parent, you are your child’s best teacher. Here are some ways to teach kids the art of compassion.
#1: Show them what it means.
If you want your children to be compassionate, you must walk the talk. If they see you modeling kindness and compassion, they will want to emulate that. Some ways you can do that include opening or holding the door for someone, making bags of toiletries or snacks for houseless people in your area, volunteering at a local food bank, or paying for someone’s meal in the drive through line. Ask your children if they have any ideas on how they could help someone else, and then work on doing those things together. Maybe put some ideas in a jar and draw one every week to see what you can do together. If your children have ownership in practicing acts of kindness and compassion, chances are, they will be more excited about it.
#2: Speak positively to your child.
Kids are capable of compassion and showing them that you believe in them is important. If you dwell on their negative traits, then they will start looking at themselves in a negative light. However, if you help draw out their good characteristics and praise them for their kindness, they will be encouraged to keep focused on that.
#3: Read books and write letters.
There are a multitude of books about compassion and kindness in your local library for kids. Make an adventure out of it and head to the library together to find some books to take home. For older kids, make an afternoon out of writing letters to military men and women who are serving. Talk to your kids about how they are away from their families and are missing them. They can write a letter that acknowledges the feelings that they might be having, thanking them for their service. Or write to people in local nursing homes. These senior citizens are also likely gone from their families and are experiencing health issues that may be frustrating or disheartening. Encouraging notes that give your kids to place themselves in someone else’s shoes is key to fostering compassion.
Cultivating compassion is a key part of a child’s upbringing and as parents, teaching your kids how to live a life of empathy and compassion means being intentional. These tips can help give both you and your children a life full of meaning and love.