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Being kind and caring, is a virtue that is developed over years of practice. Hence, it is very important for parents to instill the values of compassion and kindness in their children at a young age. Let us understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of raising your kids to be compassionate.
Compassion will teach your kids, how to develop love for everyone, including themselves and lead a meaningful life. It will make them care for the environment around them and be more respectful. However, experiencing the feeling of compassion does not come naturally to all kids. It is something that they will pick up only when the people around them will show them acts of being compassionate and kind.
As Dalai Lama very correctly said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
If you are worried about your kid not showing compassion at all, don’t worry. There is a field of study called ‘science of altruism’ which reveals that all kids have the feeling of compassion hidden inside them. We just need to find ways to discover and nurture that feeling. Let us look at ways of how you can teach your kids to be compassionate:
1. Positive Modelling
Home is the best place to learn, and kids tend to keenly observe and learn from what adults do. Hence, it is very important for you to never let go of any opportunity to practice the act of compassion in front of your kids. Help an old woman with her groceries or cross the road; check up on your friend’s health to find out how fast he/she is recovering.
2. Provide Opportunities
Kids will not learn compassion, if they just hear you talk about it. They must practice compassion in their daily lives. Hence, it is your responsibility to make them experience situations – with friends, family, neighbors where he can practice empathy, and understand the feeling of being in someone else’s skin in a tough situation.
3. Acknowledge Kindness
Show your child that you notice when someone does something thoughtful. For example, if a car slows down for you to cross the road, praise the driver by saying “It was kind of him to let us cross the road.” Likewise, acknowledge and praise your child in similar acts.
4. Volunteering Act
Involve your kids in community services. Make them spend some time at the orphanage, old-age home, and animal shelter during the weekend. Making them experience other people’s lives, will trigger the feeling of compassion and empathy in them.
5. Practicing ‘Giving’ and ‘Sharing’
Always encourage your child to share things with everyone around. Explain why he/she should be sharing the chocolate with his/her friend. Encourage the practice of good deed by donating your child’s old toys and clothes and make sure about your child’s involvement in the act.
6. Keep a Family Pet
Explain why it is important to be nice and friendly to animals. And if possible, keep a pet at home. Developing a relation with animals, will help your child understand and develop respect for all living beings.
7. Gardening Compassion
Gardening can encourage compassion too. Being responsible for a plant’s life with love, care and patience will nurture the feeling of compassion in your child.
Only, when we acknowledge and feel blessed about our own lives, we will be able to instill the values of compassion and kindness in our kids. However, before we make kids tread on the path of compassion, it is important for us to practice it first. And, the sooner we start doing it; the sooner we will see ourself standing as a proud parent of a compassionate kid.