Compassion: A deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. In a world that seems to be “all about me” and instant gratification, it is getting harder and harder to raise children to have this simple trait. My girls are 19 and 13. I swore that if I did nothing else, I would raise them to have compassion for fellow human beings and living creatures.
Yes, this was and still is a daunting task when they go to school and see fellow classmates and “friends” behaving in quite the opposite manner. It was hard for them to understand, especially when they were younger. Others may view having compassion as a weakness in today’s society, but I see it as quite the opposite — confident and secure.
How can you raise a compassionate child?
Volunteer. My girls have been around volunteer work since before they could walk. I used to carry them on my hip to help with dinners at church, Girl Scout meetings, etc. You name it, they were there. It’s never too early to start them. There is always something they can do to help out. Volunteering is simply something that our family does. I’ve instilled in my girls that it is our responsibility and opportunity to give back.
When someone is bullying your child or mistreating them at school, try to explain the possible reasons why that child is misbehaving. Discuss with your child that there are many reasons a person acts out— maybe their home life is not great, etc.
“You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” This quote is truly at the core of compassion. What a wonderful lesson to teach your children. Some of our best family memories have been doing things like this. One of our favorites is helping out the Easter Bunny the Saturday night before Easter by putting plastic goody-filled eggs in yards of those that have had a particularly tough year. We have spent countless Easter Eves being incognito with the Easter Bunny!
Encourage your kids to be nice to everyone, even when it is the most difficult. Sometimes a smile or kind word is just what someone needs.
Remember, you are their role model. Show your children compassion by the way you treat others and the way you treat them. Children learn what they live.