5 Ways To Teach Children To Be Compassionate
Compassion is a skill that can be taught, and we all need to learn it.
Empathy is a crucial ingredient in learning to be compassionate. As children grow up, they need to recognize how their actions affect others and how the world sees them. If you want your child to grow into someone who cares about other people’s feelings, then you must teach them how to use empathy.
I’ve been fortunate to raise my three children with much empathy, and I’m always looking for ways to make them smarter, kinder, and more compassionate.
I believe that compassion can be taught—and it’s one of the most important things for kids to learn. It’s easy for kids to get caught up in themselves and their own lives, but they need to remember how much they’re blessed with and how much they have to give back.
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Here are a few tips I use when raising my kids:
1. Empathize With The Other Person or Animal.
The first step to teaching your child compassion is to help them empathize with others. They must understand that empathy can be used in everyday situations, like watching a movie or playing with someone else. Assisting children to use their heart in these situations will make them more likely to use them in other cases.
Here are some ways you can teach your child how to be empathetic:
- Show them how others feel by asking questions about how they think another person might feel if they were hurt or sad, for example.
- Encourage the use of the “I statement” when children talk about someone else’s feelings (for example: “It must have been hard for Tommy when his dad lost his job”). Instead of making assumptions about what another person might feel based on their own experience (for example: “Tommy shouldn’t cry because I would never cry”).
- Model compassion yourself by being respectful and kind toward everyone you meet!
2. Use Empathy In Your Parenting And Teaching
One of the most important ways to teach children to be compassionate is through empathy.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s a skill that can be taught and learned by modeling, practicing, and talking about it in everyday life.
Explain empathy to children. Many parents feel their child is too young to understand empathy, so they don’t discuss it. However, children as young as three years old can begin developing this skill—if they’re taught in an age-appropriate way. For example, young children often struggle with seeing themselves as separate from others. This makes it hard for them to imagine what someone else might feel when that person does something hurtful or upsetting.
3. Model Gratitude
If you want your kids to be more grateful, modeling it yourself is the best way to do it. When you’re thankful for something, tell them about it—and encourage them to do the same. Give them opportunities to express their gratitude, too: Have a nightly thankfulness circle where each family member says one thing they’re grateful for that day before bedtime (this is an incredibly effective strategy when implemented with other members of your household).
Remind them who they are and where they came from. Helping children develop a sense of identity goes hand-in-hand with teaching them how to practice compassion toward others. One great way to help kids become their own is by assisting them to connect with their heritage and values as part of a bigger community than just family members alone. So take time together each month or seasonally (maybe at Thanksgiving) to talk about where your child’s ancestors came from; what was important in those places; how those things got passed down through generations; what made the people who came before different from those who followed after (or vice versa); etc., etc., etc.
4. Show Your Kids How To Be Proud Of Who They Are
- Show your kids how to be proud of who they are and how to be proud of their achievements.
- Second, show them how to be proud of their family and friends.
- Third, show them how to be proud of their culture, heritage, and background.
- Finally, show them how to be proud of their country.
5. Show Them How To Give Back
One of the best ways to teach children about compassion is to show them how to give back.
If your child’s school or community has a food bank, encourage them to donate their canned goods. If your neighborhood has a homeless shelter, let them know that it would be helpful for the shelter if they could volunteer there once a week after school. By doing this, they can learn how people in need live and their daily struggles. In addition, they’ll see where all those donations go, which will help them realize how much good their actions can do for others and allow them to practice compassion!
The same goes for other ways of helping:
- Volunteering at animal shelters or petting zoos
- Cleaning up trash along highways
- Donating toys/clothes/food items (or even money) during charity drives
A little bit goes a long way!
If you are looking for ways to encourage your child’s compassion, the best way is through volunteering. Plenty of opportunities in your community and around town—whether at school events or church-sponsored drives—would welcome their contributions. Volunteering will help them develop better social skills and spark their interest in working with others later in life.
Compassion Is a Skill That Can Be Taught, And We All Need To Learn It
Compassion is a skill that can be taught, and it’s one we all need to learn. We’re all impacted by the compassion of others, whether it’s family members or strangers. Learning about compassion early in life can help us become more compassionate.
Allow them to observe acts of kindness in their everyday lives, such as when someone gives up their seat on the bus so an elderly person can sit down or when another child helps her friend with her homework after school.
I hope these five ways of teaching kids about compassion will help you do that. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day “business” of life that we forget how important it is for our families and communities to be kind and caring towards one another. Compassion is a skill that can be taught, but it takes practice! And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise; compassion is essential for our children and ourselves. After all, what kind of world would this be without caring individuals?
5 Ways To Teach Children To Be Compassionate