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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Young Hearts: 9 Ways to Cultivate Compassion in Kids

Photo by Jennifer (Flickr)

It goes without saying, but saying that it's important for children to learn about compassion and kindness from a young age would be a massive understatement. During the early stages of their development, as a parent, you should be communicating to them not only the importance of both kindess and compassion but how opposite factors such as bullying are very wrong and should be something that they never engage in.

Compassion is something that is especially vital during the holiday season. It's a time of giving, and that's not just something that's done through gifts that are placed into colorfully wrapped and tied boxes. It's important to show compassion toward one another for many different reasons, some of which you may not be aware of.

Here are nine ways to cultivate compassion in your kids.

  1. Allow Them the Opportunity to Learn: Give your children any and all opportunities you can to learn more about other people, and this will help them become kinder, more compassionate, and more understanding of others. Aside from school, consider getting your kids involved in other activities to allow them to interact with children of all different backgrounds and races, for example. Not only will their understanding of others be increased, but their communication will benefit from it as well.
  2. Lead by Example: Always be a positive role model for your children. By showing them that you're kind and compassionate toward others, they'll see that you're leading by example, and your kindness will rub off on them, too. Show them how it's done!
  3. Volunteer With Them: There isn't much more that you can do to be kind than to volunteer. Take a look at local events, activities, and charities in your area, and contribute to help make a positive difference in someone else's life. Clearly, this defines "compassion."
  4. Consider Getting a Pet: Having a pet can be a great way to teach your children how to care and be responsible for another living thing. Animals show unconditional compassion, and who doesn't love having a furry friend around the house?
  5. Practice Healthy Communication: Compassion and communication often go together. If you can clearly tell that something is bothering your child, don't just let it be; get to the bottom of it. Ask them what's wrong and for them to explain it. Be there when they need help and they'll be more likely to return the favor to you and others as well.
  6. Random Acts of Kindness: Nothing says "kindness and compassion" like random acts of kindness. Even if it's just holding the door for someone, a little kindness can go a long way with people!
  7. Compassion Through Video: Some kids are visual learners, so consider watching shows or documentaries with your children, ones that truly show compassion. This could even be in the form of a classic children's movie where the message in it shows great value and meaning in that regard.
  8. If You Fall, Pick Yourself Back Up: We all get angry at times, and so will your kids. With that said, we won't always be nice to others at times. However, in the event that you're not, it's important for us (and for our kids) to realize that if you slip up, you should learn from your mistakes.
  9. Help Make Dreams Come True: One of the best charities out there is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Consider volunteering with your children to help out other children who could really use their spirits lifted by helping to make their dreams come true!

In what ways have you been able to cultivate compassion in your children? As always, we want to know what you're thinking, so let us know in the comments section below.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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