Studies show that while some children have an innate sense of compassion, it is a valuable character trait that we can teach and develop for all children. Being compassionate makes you a more considerate and caring individual and this will help your children to feel part of their communities and contribute positively. There are simple ways you can help your children to develop a sense of compassion and caring for themselves and for others.
Teaching manners is really teaching your child to treat others with respect. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, giving up their chair on the bus and sending ‘thank you’ notes for gifts are great ways to show respect and help children to start to think of others.
Spending a couple of hours a month at a homeless shelter, an animal shelter or a community garden will help your children to experience the joy of giving, and get a sense of the needs of others and all they have to be grateful for.
Recycling, picking up litter, taking your own cup to the coffee shop, donating old clothes to charity or upcycling your used items helps children to think about the way they affect nature and how they can live a more environmentally-friendly life.
Random Acts of Kindness
Buy a coffee for a friend, give a homeless person a meal, share your vegetables and fruit with neighbors or help a friend move. These are ways in which you can show your child how random acts of kindness every day can positively affect the world around you.
Get a Pet
Learning to care for another living thing and spending time with them helps children to develop a sense of compassion and caring. This should be a positive experience, so don’t get pets that they won’t be able to handle or if their schedules are too busy.
Talk about Bullying
Explain that name calling or physical intimidation isn’t funny and get them to think about how they would feel if it was happening to them. Discuss ways to handle bullies and what to do if they are bullied or if they see someone else getting bullied.
Donate to Charities
Every little bit helps so get them to collect their spare change for a charity of their choice. They can also participate in fundraisers for various charities.
Be a good Example
At the end of the day, the best way to teach compassion is to embody it. So resist the urge to complain, judge and be critical of others. When we do this, our children emulate our behavior. So practice compassion yourself, and point out wonderful stories where others have been good examples of compassionate humans.
Be compassionate to your child so that they know what it’s like to be on the receiving end. Talk to them about how it makes them feel so that they are aware of the joy they are able to spread in the world.