Compassion is an extremely part of being a functioning, well-rounded, caring human being. Most people display basic acts of compassion every day by displaying small acts of kindness for strangers and family, helping the less fortunate, and being generally kind people but we tend to forget that compassion is something that we learned and actively continue to strive for. In your own quest to become a more caring, compassionate person it is important to involve your children in the journey.
Teaching your child to be compassionate early in life will help them exhibit better behavior later in life and mold them into nicer people overall. While raising compassionate children is a rewarding but uphill battle, these helpful tips will definitely get you off on the right foot.
1. Always Be There
Raising a compassionate child starts with parents that are always present, available, and ready to learn and teach. It is important to let your child know that you are always there to hear and comfort them through your words as well as your actions. In the midst of working, school, and other activities it may be beneficial to carve out a specific time every day, maybe in the morning or before bed, to sit down and connect with your little one. Doing this will let your child know that you are always available and always open to hearing their thoughts and feelings, which, in turn, makes them more open to sharing them with you.
2. Be A Good Example
As the most important person in your child’s life, you set the standard for certain behaviors that they exhibit, especially when it comes to compassion. Be an example by consistently showing empathy and compassion for the people around you, both inside your friends and family groups and out. Be understanding and patient when the people in your life and those that you encounter make mistakes, this will teach your child to view and treat everyone equally.
3. Volunteer With Them
With busy schedules and countless activities and tasks to complete on a daily basis, it can be easy to get caught up in our daily lives and forget to remember that it is important to help those less fortunate than us. Not only does volunteering offer you a chance to give back but it also provides you with the opportunity to teach your kids about being compassionate. Regularly volunteer at a local soup kitchen or join a neighborhood cleanup projects and take your child along for the ride. This will allow them to appreciate people in different situations and learn how important it is to help and show empathy to others.
4. Acknowledge Their Kindness
Children respond well to positive affirmations of their actions, just like with any other positive action, acknowledging their acts of kindness will help enforce more positive actions. While it is important not to over-compliment, there is absolutely nothing wrong with showering them with a bit of praise and gratitude when you see them doing nice things for others of their own volition.
5. Talk Things Out
Make sure your little one has an extensive “feelings vocabulary.” Words like “sad,” “happy,” “angry,” etc, should be used commonly in your household. Encourage your child to always discuss what they are feeling and the reasoning behind their emotions and, in turn, do the same with them. Doing this will help your child build emotional maturity in themselves and in others.
6. Get A Pet
One of the best ways to learn about compassion is to have responsibility and care for other things besides yourself. While it isn’t always possible to give small children full responsibility of taking care of a younger sibling, giving them a furry friend to care for is a great idea. Give your little one the responsibility of looking after and loving a pet. While you will definitely have to help out with it comes to feeding, bathing, walking, etc., your kids will learn a lot about care and compassion from their animals.
7. Treat Them With Respect
Sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that your child has the same emotional needs as you do. Even if they can’t eloquently express those needs the way you can, it is important to always recognize and respect those needs. Ask your child about their feelings and take action when you see them having a hard time, even when you’re tired and burned out. In turn, your child will quickly learn to respect the emotional needs of you as well as their peers in a very compassionate way.