A child’s social development begins in the very first years of life. Compassion is one of the most important social and emotional skills a child develops during this time. Emotional learning lets children explore and understand their own emotions and those of others, allowing them to connect more easily with people and resolve problems in a healthy, positive way.
How can I raise a compassionate child? This is a question many parents have as they seek ways to support their child’s emotional development. The Values Book gives parents insightful advice on how to introduce empathy and compassion to their little one. Try out these tips with your child, and nurture their budding sense of compassion.
Why Are Compassion and Empathy Important? Things for Adults to Think About
Compassion and empathy begin to develop in the very first years of life. Most scientists assume that we are biologically wired for these feelings, but we must recognize and nurture this natural inclination toward caring.
• Do you agree that young children are naturally compassionate? How can we encourage this? How do we discourage it?
Compassion and empathy encompass respect for all living things, even the tiniest of creatures that have no voice to speak for themselves.
• Is it okay to step on a snail? How is stepping on a snail different from pulling a dog’s tail? How is pulling a dog’s tail different from hitting someone?
Talking With Children About Compassion and Empathy
Are compassion and empathy values worth keeping at all? Talk with children about the ideas below and see what they think.
• What does it mean to be kind to a friend? How does it feel when a friend is kind to you? What does it mean to be kind to animals?
• Think about a time when someone hurt you. What happened? How did you feel?
• Think of a time when you were hurt or sick. Who took care of you? How did that person take care of you? Have you helped take care of someone? Have you helped someone feel better?
Working With Families: Ideas for Home
• Use compassion when disciplining. Remember, everyone deserves a warning, and we all make mistakes. Use a kind tempered voice and be sure the punishment fits the crime.
• Discuss your feelings of compassion with your children. If you are saddened by something on the news, share those feelings.
• Keep stick-on stars. When someone in the family does something nice for another family member, let her wear a star.