Teaching the next generation about compassion is the true essence of paying it forward.
Compassion is the feeling of empathy towards other people and beings. At a very young age, children see the world through their own eyes, wants, and desires. Teaching children compassion is a crucial stage in their development. In fact, some studies suggest that their ability to feel empathy towards other people at an early age can affect their interpersonal skills when they reach adulthood.
Research cited by Very Well Mind suggests that learning compassion actually changes your brain. The study, after observing the brain activity of subjects, found out that compassion functions like a skill, which anyone can develop and improve through practice. Which is why it is best to teach children early.
In this article are some of the ways you can teach your child the meaning and essence of compassion.
Through role models
One of the most effective ways children learn is through mimicking. Moreover, it has been noted that most children look for figures to look up to and it is from them that they learn how to behave. Teaching compassion means walking the talk, according to a post by Huffpost. This means you should show your child through actions, what compassion is. If you see an opportunity to demonstrate compassion by helping a complete stranger, you should do so.
Another way is to introduce real life role models who are exemplary in showing compassion and empathy. Tackle how these ‘heroes’ display empathy and how your children can do too.
Volunteer your time
Incorporating teachings of compassion with a great childhood experience will ingrain the value in your children. Try volunteering together in a hospital or a home for the elderly. Spending time caring for others is a great way to teach empathy.. Grace’s article on ‘Have an Attitude of Gratitude’ recommends volunteering at an animal shelter, a local food bank, or even a crisis center. This can spark a new perspective that will stay with them throughout their lives.
The value of giving is one of the greatest facets of compassion you can teach your child and The Balance advises parents to encourage children to get involved in a charity. Giving them the opportunity to help pick out canned goods for food drives or setting up a charity box at home can help instill compassion in them. In fact, there are lots of ways to aid charities. Save the Children has a list of fundraising ideas that are perfect for families, and suggest turning Christmas, Easter, and Halloween events into charitable occasions. This adds a sense of fun to the proceedings and is more likely to encourage your children to want to do more. Likewise, encouraging them to donate old toys, clothes, and other belongings fosters the notion that charity is indeed rewarding.
Care for a Pet
Children’s author Elana K. Arnold believes you can also teach children compassion through looking after pets. Respecting and taking care of other’s needs before yours is the pinnacle of compassion. It does not have to be a big animal right away; Arnold’s son got a chicken, as this entails a major decision for the household. The goal is to teach them to take responsibility for others’ needs, unconditional love, and compassion for all living things.