Influencing Compassion

posted by Talk About Giving blog team

March 26, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

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For whatever reason, we have a tendency to judge those who are less fortunate or different in some way. And as our society struggles with bullying, we are more and more aware that this starts at an early age.

Fortunately as parents and mentors we have opportunity to influence our children’s ‘compassion meters’ and there are numerous ways we can do this. Not only will they be better for it, but the world will be a sweeter place. Here are some tips and ideas:

  1. Point out examples. There are acts of compassion everywhere. Be sure your kids notice! You might see it on TV, in a book or in person. Or maybe someone you know has done something kind for someone else. Tell your children about it.
  2. Nip potential false impressions in the bud. All homeless people are not alcoholics. Children whose parents are unable to care for them are just as deserving as we are. Every drug addict is not a bad person. Kids with special needs are not less worthy of our friendship. Feel free to guide your children as they’re formulating their opinions of others.
  3. Call them out. When you catch wind of your child treating someone unkindly, ask them how they would feel if someone was treating them that way. Make it real with examples to help them walk in that person’s shoes.
  4. Reinforce. When you see your child treating someone else with kindness or helping another, praise them. As they grow, their peers will have more and more influence on their behavior. The more confident they are in their behavior and beliefs about how we should treat others, the easier it will be for them to make heads or tails of their friends’ actions and attitudes.
  5. They’re watching you. Don’t forget, your children are listening and watching what you do. Allow them to see you treat others with kindness and respect, regardless of the situation.
  6. Tell them how you help others. Do you financially support or volunteer for an organization? Maybe it’s your church, the animal shelter, the homeless shelter or a health-related nonprofit. Tell them who you help and why it’s important to you.
  7. Show them compassion. This is a no-brainer but he had to include it. When your child is hurt or sick, treat them with warm loving care. Sure, there are times when we have to practice tough love, but by allowing our children to experience compassion they are more likely to reciprocate the behavior when given the opportunity.
  8. Reading. The benefits of reading with your children are countless, but for the purpose of this conversation, reading allows our children to enter worlds that are not familiar to them and examine how others feel, treat others or handle situations. Children’s books like A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Charlotte’s Web or Hey Little Ant provide great examples.

Do you have other ideas or tips for instilling compassionate into the hearts of children? Please, share with us below!


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