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Building Compassion and Empathy in Children

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

By: Melissa Custodio

1. Actions Speak Louder Than Words

When you tell your child to be “kind” and “compassionate”, there is a big chance they don’t really understand what those words mean. That is why it is better to show them kind and compassionate acts as often as you can. It can be as simple as helping a neighbor take their trash bins out, or offering to babysit their children. Surrounding your children with caring people will also help them understand compassion more.

2.  Let your Child Experience Compassion Demonstrating compassion could definitely rub off on your child, but allowing them to be on the receiving end of it will impact them more. Taking extra care of your child when she is not feeling well physically or emotionally is a concrete example of having them experience compassion first hand. When they know how it feels to be cared for, it will be easier for them to give that kindness to someone else.

3. Make Time to Volunteer Another powerful act of compassion to others is getting involved with volunteer work, like donating goods or services to a shelter, or joining a fundraiser for a cause. Your children are more likely to think and act compassionately toward others when they are involved in fun but meaningful activities. Volunteering as a family will engage children more and also emphasize that caring for others is an important part of life. When they see their parents taking the time out of their busy schedules to help others, children will understand how necessary it is to care for other people.

4. Take Care of a Pet Getting a family dog or cat could teach your young one to not only be more responsible, but also more compassionate. Having to think about the needs and caring for another living being can be challenging, but it definitely has its rewards. Children who take care of pets also learn to love unconditionally and empathize with all living things.

5. Expose them to media that shows compassion While watching movies or TV shows with your children, point out instances wherein compassion is shown onscreen – or instances where showing compassion could have helped the characters better. Make sure to highlight scenes where a character helps someone out, or ask your child what a character should have done to eliminate a problem in the story. Books could also be sources of lessons on compassion. Stories about kindness and charity not only entertain, but also teach these wonderful values.

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