Teaching Your Children How to Be Compassionate

In the past few years, bullying has taken center stage as a major problem among our youth. Be it physical bullying in schools or psychological intimidation on social media, this has caused parents, educators, and policy-makers to stand up and take notice.

All of the “zero tolerance” policies in the world, though, will have no impact on children and their behavior unless we begin to teach our kids how to be more compassionate. We have to be able to see our actions and behaviors through the lens of someone else so that we can see how those actions impact others.

Here, then, are ways you can help your child show more sympathy and empathy towards others:

  1. Lead by Example — The first thing you need to do is to show your child how to be compassionate with your own words and actions. Speak kindly and sympathetically of others and try not to be abrasive or critical of others in conversation (at least not within earshot of the kids). Also, show compassion to others in your everyday actions. This can be just as simple as teaching your child to look others in the eye and say “Hello” as they walk by. This teaches them to see others as people deserving of respect, an important step towards compassion.


  1. Volunteer — Another important step in demonstrating compassion yourself is to volunteer your time helping others. Most people think of this as volunteering at soup kitchens and, while that is a great way to help others, you can also do this in smaller stages such as helping a neighbor with lawn work or tutoring kids after school. Your children should see that you are compassionate towards others so they can then turn this into their own actions. You can also introduce them to charitable organizations that seek to help others who are less fortunate, such as Meals-on-Wheels or those who are sick, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


  1. Get a Pet — One of the big reasons many people suggest getting a pet is because they can teach your child lessons that will stay with them for their whole lives. If your child has to clean up after, feed, and walk a pet, they learn to care for something besides themselves, a key component in compassion. If you are worried about making a major commitment with a cat or dog, start with something small like a fish.

If the people of the world could learn to be more compassionate, then a lot of our problems would actually fix themselves. But none of this will become a reality until we take the step to teach this to our children and the younger generations.


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