How Do You Teach Compassion?
During the holiday season, your kids are sure to eagerly await present-unwrapping, cookie-eating, and some much-needed family time. However, the holidays also emphasize another important message: the importance of giving and the compassion that comes along with it.
By the time children are 5 or 6, they often share more easily and are able to discuss what it means to be kind. While your kids can’t wait to write their Christmas lists or dive into Hanukkah presents, they’re also at a prime time for wanting to help others.
With that in mind, we asked our Facebook parents about the ways in which they teach their children about compassion and how their children model compassion and care (especially during the holidays). Here are some of the thoughtful responses we received.
For more insight on encouraging compassion in your kids, check out our Parent Guide to Raising Kind & Compassionate Children.
“By caring for other living things; pets, plants, people. Very effective!! ?” — Mary Mathern
“BE the Example they follow. All the experts agree…Kids look up to their Parents.” — Kitty Brown
“I taught my sons to be best friends first…they will always be brothers and to this day they can rely on each other for the friendship.” — Patti Baker Ainslie
“So many things!!!! Raising my son over the last 13 years and my daughter over the last 9, I have been presented many times with the need to educate my children in love and compassion.
When a friend wants to share exciting news with you like a gift they received or a vacation they got to go on, you don’t immediately respond with what you got or where you’ve gone. You listen, acknowledge their excitement and joy they had sharing what they did or they received.
If you see someone who’s not having a great day or struggling with something you reach out to offer help, knowing that if you were struggling you would want somebody to reach out to you and that it’s not always easy to ask for help.
If there’s someone in a social group that just doesn’t seem to fit in, acknowledge them and make them a part of what you’re doing. More often than not you’ll find they’re some of the most interesting people you’ll meet. When you recognize somebody for being odd or different from what your peers feel or think should be the norm, not only accept their individuality but respect it.
I remind them when they see a classmate who is not behaving correctly, who is angry, who is frustrated, you have to have compassion for that, and acknowledge that you don’t know what put them in that state. They have to realize that everybody’s life is different and everyone’s challenges are different. I remind my children how blessed they are to have the love and compassion and thoughtful, involved family that provides them with unconditional love and support.
Be a good listener. See the bigger picture. Be accepting of all people and their beliefs. Look outside your own personal bubble. Always be you and never question who you are that makes you you.” — Carrie Shepherd
“Every year, they each choose 3 of their Christmas gifts to bring to the children’s hospital or a shelter.” — Kelli Ream
“We were strolling down the toy aisle the other day and I felt so proud when my four-year-old son started window shopping for the children who don’t have mommies or daddies!” — Laura Millison
“Showing them compassion!” — Amy Caires Luongo
“Myself & a few other preschool parents recently started a kindness club. We just completed our first service project; a food drive and the kids delivered the food to our local food pantry. We plan on completing one service project a month with our kids.” — Savannah Largent
“By giving away books, clothes and donating food for Thanksgiving baskets.” — Afrika Abney
“He watches what I do. I let him be gentle which is his natural self. He’s nine and I let him be.” — Jody Weisinger
“Since my daughter was very young, I have involved her in charity projects. A toddler is quite capable of selecting items for shoebox gifts for children who use our local food pantry, choosing gently used toys to donate, helping wrap gifts (adults wrap, kids run packages from the unwrapped area to the wrapped area), etc. I explained the need for charity by telling her that sometimes things happen like job losses or illnesses and Mommies and Daddies can’t afford to buy gifts or sometimes children can’t be with their families and our gifts are a way to help.” — Julia Long Painter