Before diving straight into how to teach compassion to a child, let us first talk a bit about compassion itself. Compassion is a concept that is almost always alternatively used for either empathy or altruism. First of all, empathy is the ability to completely understand someone else’s feelings. On the other hand, altruism is having a powerful desire to help others. You see, empathy can happen even without altruism. At the same time, altruism can happen even without empathy. However, this is where compassion enters the scene. Compassion is actually the ability to perceive suffering and then having the yearning to help.
In a world that is chaotic and in a life that is just full of pain, compassion is indeed a breath of fresh air. It’s certainly one of the values everyone should have to make the world a better place. Moreover, you have to teach your child about compassion at a very early age to instill its significance. When you do it right, you will definitely raise a person that has a heart of gold. So, how to teach compassion to a child? Here are 20 ways you can do so:
1. Talk about it openly and frequently
The very first way to instill compassion in your child’s heart and mind is by talking about it. However, this isn’t just small talks but rather having a heart-to-heart talk about it. You have to really get your child’s attention. It’s important that you will get him/her to listen completely to what you are trying to say. Then the next step is to explain compassion itself, simply and clearly. You have to definitely emphasize why it’s important to be one of his/her values in life and why it’s also needed by the world. Furthermore, tell your child all the good things that can happen when there is compassion everywhere.
2. Read about it
Children love books and good stories. You can certainly take advantage of this. Pick children’s books with stories that reflect compassion and all the goodness that comes out of it. You can absolutely read one to your child every nighttime, before going to bed. Additionally, reading can also be your bonding moment when you have free time during the day. Furthermore, you can try asking your child later regarding what he/she has learned from the book. Through this, you will know if your child got the main message of the story. If not, you can absolutely explain more.
3. Show them how it’s done
This one is definitely a no-brainer. You have to be a role model of compassion if you want your child to have it. Always bear in mind that what a child sees in his/her parents, he/she will imitate. If your child can see how compassionate you are towards other people in your everyday life, he/she will understand that it’s how things should really go. Basically, what a child sees in a parent is what he/she will think as the default of things in the world. So if the child sees and feels compassion, he/she will get the idea that it’s something that should always be present everywhere.
4. Let them experience it themselves
For your child to understand compassion, there will come a point where they need to experience it themselves. Only through this way that they can fully understand what compassion entails. As a parent, you need to be compassionate to your child. For example, if they fall from the bike, tell them that you understand how they feel and want to help. A simple gesture like that will already instill compassion in your child’s heart and mind. They will definitely be thankful for you. Moreover, you can rest assure that they will be able to do the same with others.
5. Let them see you actually practice it on yourself
Letting your child to experience compassion themselves isn’t the only powerful way to teach them compassion. You can also let them see how you practice it on yourself. If your child sees that you aren’t kind to yourself, how do you expect him/her to know compassion? So in every single thing that you do, see to it that you are being kind to yourself. Bear in mind that children are very observant and perceptive despite their young age. They can indeed pick up on a lot of things. Rest assure that they are observing how you treat yourself.
6. Consider having a pet
Having a pet of whatever kind is definitely a fun way on how to teach compassion to a child. Through this, they will be taught on how to connect to an animal. This connection to another living creature is a big step for them to understand compassion. How and why? They will be motivated to go out of their way and be a responsible pet owner. They will also be moved to really know what their pet is feeling at the moment. Moreover, they will be inclined to being attentive to the pet’s needs. A pet is certainly an amazing teacher of compassion since they can’t talk. And for the reason that they can’t communicate, your child will be driven to be as compassionate as ever. Lastly, having a pet will 100% create a loving relationship that always has compassion in it.
7. Consider volunteering
You can opt for volunteering for various causes with your child. Through this way, you can teach your child about compassion by supporting other people. This one is absolutely hitting two birds with one stone: you are already helping a life-changing cause and you are able to show your child another way to be compassionate.
8. Teach them how to treat the elderly
By teaching them how to treat the elder people, they will understand compassion in a much more special way. They will surely understand that the aged people need another level of treatment and attention. Furthermore, your child will also learn about respect.
9. Teach them how to treat the disabled
By teaching them how to treat the disabled people, they will understand compassion in another special way. They will surely understand that the disabled people or people with special needs do require empathy and altruism. At the same time, your child will also definitely learn about respect.
10. Teach them how to treat those in need
By teaching them how to treat the people in need, they will understand compassion in another special way. They will surely understand that these people do need a helping hand, so they can stand on their feet again. Your child will truly learn about selfless giving too.
11. Teach them how to understand their own feelings
Compassion is rooted upon understanding someone else’s feeling. Now, take note that your child won’t be able to do it right when they don’t even know how to do it for themselves. You see, the saying that everything starts with yourself is definitely 100% true. At the same time, it’s also true that you can’t really fully give something if you don’t have it yourself. Meaning that you can’t fully understand other people’s emotions if you don’t have even the slightest understanding of your own. For these reasons, teach your child to understand every emotion that they feel at a given moment. Teach them how to process it, whether good or bad. This is certainly a first step towards understanding feelings along the way.
12. Show them how to be vulnerable about feelings
This one is all about teaching your child on how to share his/her feelings. When they are so used to being vulnerable when the moment calls for it, they can motivate others to be the same too. They can definitely encourage others to share their feelings that can lead to a stronger connection built upon compassion.
13. Teach them how to know someone else’s emotional state
This is simply teaching your child on how to tell how somebody else is feeling. Here, you can teach about the facial expressions that corresponds to certain emotions. Then you teach them how to behave accordingly as soon as they get to know how that other person is feeling.
14. Teach them how to listen when others are baring their hearts out
This is simply teaching your child the art of listening. And it’s not just typical listening, but listening with the intent of understanding. This comes in handy when you are telling your child how to deal with his/her friends. You will teach your child that there is a time to speak and also a time to listen. Moreover, you will tell your child that when a friend is telling them something important, they need to be really attentive. It’s because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s also how they will want to be treated by their friends.
15. Don’t let rudeness pass
When your child acts rude with no valid reason, point it out. He/she needs to know that a mistake has been done and that they should be sorry about it. As the parent, it’s definitely up to you on how to discipline your child based on the intensity of the misconduct made. Just make sure that it won’t be too much for your child to handle.
16. Acknowledge when they practice it themselves
On the other hand, point it out too when they are compassionate with others. For example, if they give their toy to a friend who’s crying, praise them for it. Also, when they say sorry to a sibling whom they accidentally hurt during playtime, commend them for it. Furthermore, there are other ways of positive reinforcements that you can opt for. You can certainly choose other creative ways to reward your good child. Take note that these are really helpful to encourage more of the good deed of being compassionate.
17. Beware of the media content they’re getting
Always see to it that you monitor what they are watching on the television and any other forms of media. Moreover, little kids these days already have access to the internet too! Remember that the things on those media channels really root in your child’s mind, so they better be good. Shows, videogames, or anything that promotes violence isn’t appropriate for young children. However, shows that promote camaraderie are the ones that they can definitely ingest.
18. Let them play a cooperative or team-building game with friends
Encourage them to play games with their friends that will promote cooperation rooted upon compassion. Tug-of-war can certainly be a good game. It teaches them to exert more effort to help the player who is first on their team line because he/she has the most pressure. Rest assure that even the simplest things like this will already instill compassion in your child’s heart and mind.
19. Teach them to write kind notes to others
This is a way to be compassionate and sweet at the same time. You can teach your child to write notes to their siblings, other members of the family, or friends. These notes will include how much they appreciate these people, and how they can always count on him/her all the time. Rest assure that a child raised with this practice will really be extra sweet when he/she grows up.
20. Teach them how to be a problem-solver
Teach your child to be a critical thinker when there is a problem on the table. Moreover, teach them to be like that, especially if it’s their loved one’s problem or their friend’s.
That’s it from me today. If you like this blog post or if you have more suggestions as to how to teach compassion to a child, leave us a comment! Always remember that you are in charge of who your child is going to be. Make sure to raise a good and kind person by teaching compassion. We definitely need it now more than ever.