You may hope your child takes over the family business one day, or that they will become a doctor or join the military. You may imagine what it will be like to have grandchildren or wonder if your adult kids will live nearby. But really, the hope of every parent is that their children will grow to be responsible and kind people. And while life holds no guarantees, there are ways that you can intentionally instill these character traits in your children even when they are young. Today we will explore what it takes to raise compassionate children, those who can see the world through others’ eyes and show kindness to everyone.
What is Compassion?
Compassion is literally defined as sympathy and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others. Practically, this looks like a willingness to notice those who need help and to help those in need. Therefore, compassionate kids are helpful, thoughtful, and generous. Kids who have parents and family whose behavior is empathetic will raise a kid to be an example for the community of kids’ lives. Parents should always talk to their children of all ages, teens included about the acts of kindness.
Empathy and Child Development
A child’s ability to have empathy relies on their awareness of others. Small children are still developing a sense of self and are not yet ready to consider the perspectives and needs of others. This isn’t a character flaw! In fact, it is very normal and important to child development. Compassion is “caught, not taught” in infancy and toddlerhood, as children learn about natural boundaries and emotions by watching others. Toddlers begin to express feelings more clearly and therefore to understand the language of emotions. By the time a child is in preschool, they are ready to begin more intentional coaching about empathy, kindness, and compassion.
Questions as a Gateway to Compassionate Children
Children love to ask questions about the world around them. They are natural noticers, seeing things that adults often look over or consider unimportant. The probing questions they ask are excellent gateways to teaching compassion! For instance, if your child notices someone’s differences, take the opportunity to explain both the answer to their question and the appropriate way to discuss differences. Say something like, “Yes, he is in a wheelchair. That probably means he can’t walk very well on his own. He also looks about your age! I bet he likes some of the same books you do. Would you like to ask him?” This approach helps your child see the people around them as individuals, with interests, thoughts, and feelings. The more a child relates to others, the more likely they are to engage with them in kindness. Parents should talk with their children or read books with them about compassion and point out empathy from time to time. Ideas that support a curious child’s question with a bit of education on the subject they inquired about, are always an easy way to get some of that emotional intelligence in on a nonchalant conversation.
Around late preschool and kindergarten, children begin to form more exclusive friend groups. While this is a natural development, it can lead to hurt feelings and exclusion. As your child sorts through the many things that friendship means, encourage and model an inclusive and accepting mindset. Interact with people of all different types and encourage your child to play with children who seem lonely. When someone seems sad about being left out, ask your child to remember a time when they felt similar feelings. At the same time, continue to support your child’s close friendships by explaining that having close relationships doesn’t require the exclusion or rejection of others. And of course, always treat everyone you encounter with respect and acceptance. As always, your actions speak louder than your words.
Traits of a compassionate child
Compassionate children are kind, understanding, and empathetic. They are observant of others’ feelings and actions. When compassionate children see someone who is sad or hurt, they try to understand why that person is upset while also recognizing how they themselves might be feeling in a similar situation. Compassionate kids can recognize what another person needs in order to feel better and desire to help that person. These kids also find it easy to express empathy through their words and actions. They say phrases like, “That must make you sad,” or “I would feel sad if I were in your shoes.” They show their care for others by holding doors open, helping a peer put on their coat, or carrying something for someone.
Teach Empathy and Gratitude
Compassionate children also tend to become compassionate adults! That means they treat everyone with kindness and respect, even when no one is watching. They show kind actions not just toward other people but towards all living creatures. Add a family member to the mix. We’re talking animals this time instead of new babies don’t worry. It can let your child have a good friend while making them aware of other people’s needs at the same time. It gives them a good example of generosity for those that can’t speak, leading them to hear a person through actions. All lives are important, the difference in life goes beyond just humans. Most parents understand that emotional intelligence is important to teach children but teaching young children at an early age is what we like to reflect is, it should be a vital part of any parenting tips.
Naturally, focus on ways to raise babies so they become compassionate adults! Listen to your kids and teach them about the community and volunteer. Behavior can be greatly improved just by implementing a few of these examples covered in this article. Raising kids through emotional literacy can provide mental health gains and teach children the right ways to act in public and in school. Providing you with a never-ending feeling of accomplishment. A compassionate child will raise eyebrows in all the right ways.
Raising a compassionate child is not easy work, but it is worthwhile. By consistently modeling acceptance and kindness while also encouraging your child to consider others’ needs, you create an environment where compassion can grow. The good news is it doesn’t require any special skills or tools for you to be kind. When you show compassion, you teach your child to do the same. And compassionate children can change the world! If you are looking for childcare that is built on a foundation of respect, excellence, and kindness, consider Legacy Academy. Call or visit your local location for more information.