Compassion and kindness, like many things, are learned over time and through practice. When it comes to kindness and compassion, you are your child’s primary teacher. And, there are many ways you can encourage your kids to be more caring and compassionate.
What are Compassion and Kindness?
Although kindness and compassion go hand in hand, they are different. Since we want kids to understand both, knowing their difference is essential.
Kindness is an action that others can see. You can see qualities of affection, warmth, and playfulness. When children are kind, they can admit wrongdoing and reconnect with others. Additionally, it models openness and humility.
On the other hand, compassion is an inner experience characterized by sympathy, empathy, and concern. Basically, compassion gives us the feelings to show kindness to others.
How to Teach Compassion and Kindness
Before your kids can be kind, you must teach them compassion, including empathy and sympathy for others. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings or put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Here are seven ways to teach compassion and kindness to your child:
1. Believe in Your Child
First, it’s essential to believe that your child is capable of compassion and kindness. Kids are impressionable, and they believe what they hear. If you tell your child they are not kind or up to no good all the time, then that’s what they will think. On the other hand, if you believe they are capable of compassion and kindness, your child will also think that.
2. Walk the Talk
If you want your child to be kind and compassionate, you can’t just tell them to be this way. Sure, your child may listen to your words, but ultimately they learn more from what you do! Your kids watch you and model your actions. So, if you want to teach them kindness and compassion, you have to model that in your efforts. When you have a chance to show kindness, do it. Here are some ideas:
- Open the door for a senior at the grocery store.
- Show respect to those you are talking to, even if you disagree with what they are saying or doing.
- When you encounter someone who needs help, find out if you can assist them.
- Pay for someone’s meal behind you in the drive-thru line.
Show your kids that anytime is the right time to engage in acts of kindness and compassion. If you need more ideas, here are 5 Simple Ways to Share Kindness in Your Community.
3. Show Your Child Compassion and Kindness
Not only is it vital to model compassion and kindness to others, but your child needs to be on the receiving end of that kindness. Allowing your child to experience empathy and compassion firsthand is even more impactful than modeling it.
When your child is hurt, sick, or upset about something, be sure to provide an abundant amount of TLC. It may seem obvious to you, but this act of kindness is something they can feel, so they will want others to feel the same.
4. Talk About It
Another great way to teach kindness and compassion is to communicate their importance to your kids. For example, if you see a movie where someone is kind, you can point it out. Additionally, you can talk to your kids about people who need compassion and kindness, such as the elderly or children living in poverty.
5. Point Out Facial Expressions
It can be challenging for kids to feel compassion and empathy for someone else if they can’t understand how they think. To help teach compassion and empathy, make a point to coach your child to pay attention to people’s facial expressions.
By learning to read facial expressions, kids can better understand how another person is feeling. For example, your child might think it was funny seeing someone else get splashed by a puddle of water. This is a perfect opportunity to point out that the person’s face is not laughing and looks mad or sad.
6. Do Kindness Activities
Kids learn through your actions, but they can also learn through hands-on activities! Doing projects that teach kindness allows your child to practice compassion and empathy without feeling the pressure of being in a situation. Here are a few great activities you can do to teach kindness:
- Kindness Constellation Project: This craft combines science and kindness by having kids make constellations that say a kind word or show a kind picture. It encourages creativity and teaches kids different ways to show empathy.
- Make a Hug Project: One way to show you care is to hug someone. In this project, kids make a heart hug that they can give to someone to cheer them up.
- Heart Bookmarks: This is an easy and fun project you can do with your kids that allows them to show kindness and love in their community. Make bookmarks with kind phrases for your local library or school.
- Self Love Bucket: When you can say nice things about yourself, you can also say nice things about others. You want kids to be kind to others but also kind to themselves. This self-love bucket is a way for kids to think about all the amazing things about themselves.
7. Read Books About It
Children’s books are a great way to provide a window into the experiences of others. There are many books that teach and show compassion, empathy, and kindness. Here are a few to get you started:
- My Secret Bully: This is an excellent book for sparking conversations about bullying and relational aggression.
- The Invisible Boy: School can be tough for kids, and this book is perfect for inspiring empathy and compassion for others.
- Kindness is My Superpower: Throughout this story, little superhero Lucas learns what kindness means and understands what it’s like to be kind, sensitive, caring, and generous.
- You, Me, and Empathy: In this story, Quinn helps teach kids about empathy, feelings, kindness, compassion, tolerance, and recognizing bullying behavior.
What ways have you taught your child about compassion and kindness? Share your tips and tricks on how to raise compassionate kids in our Local Anchor Facebook Group.