One of the most important values to instill in your children is compassion because they are our future. Without compassionate people on the front, we have no hope, which is why a major focus in your parenting should be on raising a compassionate human.
Much like anything else, compassion is something that your child will learn through practice and through what you model for them. If you want to raise a compassionate person, you too need to be a compassionate person. It might sound like a difficult task, but human beings are naturally inclined to comfort others, according to research. So, when it comes down to it- as long as you can help hone that desire in your child, by guiding them to be compassionate, it is not that difficult.
Here are 9 things parents do to raise a compassionate child.
1. Model empathy.
One of the most important facets of compassion is empathy. You can teach this by not only just modeling it but modeling it out loud. What I mean by that, is you should notice situations going on around you and point them out. One example, is if you are out eating, and you see a server drop a tray of drinks, say “I wonder how she was feeling when she dropped those drinks?” or “What do you think it’s like to be that busy at work?”
2. Boost their feelings vocabulary.
Help your child to understand the complex myriad of emotions by labeling them. Don’t just stop with happy or sad, try to help them understand all of the emotions and what they mean. The best way to do this is by continuing to add complexity to their emotional vocabulary as they get older.
3. Coach your child to notice facial expressions.
Pay attention to people’s facial expressions and point them out to your child. If you see a little boy who is sad at the park because his balloon flew away, point that out and say, “Do you see his face? He looks sad because his balloon flew away.” Or, if you notice a little girl who is getting her favorite flavor of ice cream, and has a big smile on her face, point that out too.
5. Let your child see that how they treat others matters to you.
Children are young, and it takes them time to understand the complexity of compassion. If you notice your child laughing because another child fell down at the park, say, “He doesn’t think it’s funny, look at his face, he looks sad, now his knee is scraped up and I bet that hurts.”
6. Point out kindness.
Don’t just point out bad things or sad things, you also need to shed light on kindness. If you see a man helping a woman and her child across the street, say, “Do you see that man helping that lady and her child? That was a very kind gesture.”
7. Be aware of the content your child consumes.
Be mindful of the types of movies, videos, books, and video games your children are watching. You can introduce them to wholesome movies and books and use those as tools to model compassion. Or, you can allow them to watch unsavory content that they are also likely to imitate.
8. Explain that words can be as hurtful as hitting.
Oftentimes, kids don’t understand the power of words. When they say something unkind to another child, recognize that and the way the other child reacts. Also, if they are hitting or knocking down other children for toys, say “You can get what you want without harming others. Apologize to them for hurting their feelings and hitting them.”
9. Show your child how to help those in need.
Get your child involved with helping others by taking them to a local soup kitchen, or even an assisted living facility to volunteer. There are tons of ways you can volunteer in your community, even if it’s just gathering cans for a food drive.