From a young age, we teach our children to be kind. But at what age should we start teaching compassion as well?
Kindness is an integral quality for our children to have. It’s an external action that has a beneficial impact on another party. Research shows that it also helps with having better physical and mental health, and creates stronger relationships.
Closely related to kindness is compassion. But while kindness is an external act, compassion is an internal one. It marries sympathy, empathy, and concern to create an internal feeling that is closely related to the kindness we express to others.
Compassion allows our children to have a greater understanding of another’s suffering or experience. It helps them understand the world outside of themselves, and how others may differ or endure hardships. It does not take the place of kindness, but can help spur it.
While it can’t be turned on like a light switch, compassion can be taught and nurtured, like any other attribute. Reading stories and engaging in talk about others’ perspectives will help them gain awareness about how others might feel or experience the world.
Encourage your child to use compassion as a tool to inspire their behavior and actions, and later talk about how connections and relationships are made. Walk the walk by speaking of the compassion that you have for others so that your child understands what it looks like. Younger children may struggle with the abstract nature of compassion, so real-life examples will help them gain a further understanding.
Our world is diverse, and our children will be better members of society with a sense of compassion that helps them connect and relate to people from all walks of life. It will inspire them to be more proactive when defending a friend, or providing aid to someone who needs it. With compassion comes connection, and from there, kindness can grow.
Until next week,