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Teaching our Children Compassion Toward Others

Updated on May 11, 2012

Teaching our Children Compassion Toward Others

Like most characteristics we develop, compassion is one we have to be taught. Not only must we be taught how to be compassionate and how to treat others this way, but we must do so through the actions of the ones who care for us... usually, our parents.

Young children begin learning through imitating others. So... if we want our children to behave positively and, yes, compassionately, then as parents/caregivers, we must model these behaviors for them. Don't underestimate the attention or the intelligence of a young child. You would be surprised just what, and to what degree, they're able to learn. This certainly holds true when it comes to learning through watching and modeling the behavior of those around us. Have you ever heard a young child say something (just to say it or to say it to someone else) that is a little less than appropriate? I think we've all witnessed this behavior from a child a time or two. The truth, is... the child is most likely too young to think or say such things, themselves. The liklihood of them hearing someone else saying such things is quite high. Then... somewhere down the line, the child repeats what was heard.

How much more positive, and better, would things be if everyone spending time with or around children says and does only positive things? Of course, that would be ideal; however... it is impossible for us to control the actions of everyone within earshot or eyesight of our children. Oh... if only!!!

Of course, we want our children to live a happy life and have the best possible experiences they can. Given we have our own actions and speech under control, then... we need to begin teaching our young children how to treat others. This, too, can begin at home, through imitation. They further develop these necessary skills through one-on-one, face-to-face contact... such as playtime, conversation and other interactions.

When a baby or young child has his/her first playdate, we want to make sure we keep an eye on them to make sure things go well. It is also the perfect opportunity for us, as parents, to play along with them; to guide them in skills such as sharing, kindness and respect; and to ensure the interaction/play remains safe. As they learn through your loving guidance and firm correctness, they will come to know what is (and is not) expected of them and how they should interact together, as well as with other people.

Things, people, actions, etc. are not perfect, nor will they ever be. The key to remaining on the right track, teaching compassion and other positive character behaviors to your children (so they, in turn, will take those lessons into their future relationships), is... when there is a mistake or something does go wrong, calmly and firmly remind your child what you expect (or don't expect) of them and why what they did is not appropriate. Ask them how they would feel (empathy) if someone said/did the negative behavior to them. Likely, they will admit... it is not something they would like, either.

Ideally, we will equip our children with positive social skills so they can affect all of their relationships, as well as the world, with their love, empathy and compassion.

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    • DS Duby profile image

      DS Duby 

      6 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Great hub I couldn't agree more the entire world needs to learn better compassion (and responsibility for that matter)

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