Every parent wants their kid to be kind, helpful and think of others. If we’re honest, we probably all secretly worry they will be just the opposite. While all children are individuals with their own personalities, as parents we do have a tremendous amount of influence. If that scares you a little and you’re worried you will screw it up – take a deep breath mama because even the fact that you are thinking of this means you’re on the right track and you got this. There are many things we can do to teach sensitivity, compassion, and concern for others and it’s as easy as taking the next step.
1. Set a good example
Demonstrate compassion and your children will mimic your behavior. Are you compassionate with others? Or are you harsh and inconsiderate? Your child looks to you for cues regarding how to behave and view the world. Be the best example you can be.
This path of examining ourselves first can be one of the most difficult steps. But if we are honest in our assessment, we can find clues in how we can improve ourselves and set a greater example for our kids. This can be as simple as taking a gift to our friend who just had a baby, volunteering at church, bringing in your neighbors trash can when they’re at work before it blows down the street.
As yourself this — what are the logical conclusions my child would reach from observing how I interact with others?
2. Point out when others are compassionate
When you observe someone showing compassion, talk about it with your child. It can be an event in everyday life or a character in a movie. It’s as easy as saying, “Wow, the princess is being so nice to that boy. She really cares about his feelings. I bet he likes that.”
3. Spend time with your child doing things for others
Take your unneeded clothes to Goodwill and explain the reasons to your child. Encourage your child to donate toys so less fortunate children can have toys, too.
Go with your child to volunteer at places like your local pet store, fish store, zoo or other favorite place you frequent together.
4. Encourage your child to help others
Perhaps you notice your child helping his sister to put her toys away. Acknowledge it and praise your child. Behaviors that are rewarded are more likely to reoccur.
5. Get a pet
A pet provides an opportunity for a child to take care of another living creature. Most children love animals and a pet is excellent practice for demonstrating compassion. Dogs and kids become fast friends and enjoy looking out for each other.
6. Discuss feelings
Start a conversation about feelings whenever the opportunity arises. Share your own feelings too. Explain how you feel after a bad day or when something good happens. Here are some questions to help get the ball rolling.
* How did you feel when mommy told you that it was time for bed?
* How does your brother feel when you take his toys?
* I saw your friend, Alice, crying after school today. What happened?
* How do you feel on Christmas morning?
7. Set rules at home that show respect for others
The behavior you demand at home influences their behavior outside the home. Set standards at home that encourage compassion. A few ideas include:
* No hitting.
* No name-calling.
* Everyone helps with dinner – setting the table, washing the dishes, and so on.
* Share and take turns.
8. Assign chores
Chores provide a sense of responsibility and demonstrate the need to do things for the common good. Chores help the parents and create a more pleasant home environment for everyone in the family. Give your child a few chores to do and explain why they’re important. Check out this guid to a calmer morning and get the free Chore Chart download.
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When we teach our children to be compassionate to others it not only benefits them, but it benefits the rest of the world, too. Hope this list was helpful in presenting a few simple ways to spend a couple minutes each day growing your child in compassion.