Compassion – the sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others – is literally “suffering with another.” Teaching your child to be compassionate is an important parental responsibility, one that has far-reaching implications for not only your child’s future, but also the future of humanity. Our world could do with more kindness and instilling it in our children is the first step. In this article, we discuss several ways you can teach your child to be more compassionate.
Model Compassion Yourself
As with anything you want to teach your children, the lessons begin with modeling the behavior yourself. And this doesn’t mean just showing compassion to others, but also to yourself and to your child. When your child witnesses you engaging in a compassionate act, it goes further and deeper than just explaining compassion as a concept. You can model compassion by helping someone elderly take groceries to their car or by buying a meal and handing it to a homeless person who is out panhandling. Look for ways to show your child what compassion looks like and you will have taken the most important step toward instilling them with it. You can also model compassion by showing it to yourself. When you make a mistake, verbally forgive yourself for it and love yourself through it.
Showing compassion toward your child is probably the most effective and impactful method for teaching the behavior. When your child is on the receiving end of your compassion they internalize what it feels like and, in turn, can understand how it would impact others. One of the best opportunities for showing compassion is when your child gets hurt or becomes sick. This is your chance to provide your child with an abundance of loving, compassionate care. This goes beyond merely medicating or treating a wound. It means hugging them, kissing them, holding them and telling them you’re so sad they’re hurting. You’ll know this is having an effect when you hear your child tending to a pet, stuffed animals or dolls with that same kind of TLC.
When You See Compassion, Talk About It
In addition to being compassionate toward others and your own child, look for opportunities to point out compassionate acts. Whether on a television show, a movie, in the newspaper or out in the world, look for chances to point out acts of compassion in a way that lets your child know it’s an important family value. Also look for interactions where someone could have been more compassionate and discuss that with your child. Ask him or her how the person could have acted with more kindness. It’s also helpful to identify the kinds of people who are in need of extra compassion – the elderly, the poverty-stricken, those with mental illness and others who are less fortunate.
Use books and meditations on compassion on the Ninja Focus app!
Modeling compassion and pointing out acts of compassion are the most important ways of teaching it to your child. What else can you do to drive home the concept? One way is through storybooks that center around the importance of compassion. Books such as The Invisible Boy – a story about the importance of small acts of kindness – help teach the concept of compassion in an engaging and memorable way. Another method for reinforcing the concept is through mindful meditations such as those included in Ninja Focus. The app, which you can download for free, includes wonderful meditations centered on kindness and compassion. Your child will love doing these short, soothing meditations.
Let’s face it, the world could use more compassion, and children are the key to making the world a kinder place. Try making compassion a more purposeful topic in your home and watch how your child internalizes the message.