By Aradhana Pandey:
We are all born with a blank slate — no preconceived notions, no feelings of hate or jealousy, no judgment of right or wrong — nothing but a mind willing to learn and a heart capable of giving. As we grow, gradually the blank slate gets inscribed with values, opinions and views imparted by our family and society, shaping us as the individuals we grow up to be! Over the years, we learn and unlearn numerous lessons, depending on how strong our value system and ideals are. It is, therefore, important that you set a strong base of values for your child today to ensure that s/he grows up to become a benevolent adult. Here are five tips for nurturing compassion in your kids:
- Set Behavioral Rules — Setting boundaries for behavior is one of the most important factors that help inculcate compassion in kids. Little children don’t have a clear sense of understanding between good and bad behavior, and behavioral rules can thus act as a guiding light to direct their approach towards other people and social situations. Ensure you introduce these rules from a very young age, as doing this will help define his/her lifelong behavioral traits.
- Set an Example of Kindheartedness — From the moment your child sees the light of the day, you become the most integral part of his/her life. The things you do, the words you speak, how you behave with strangers — almost everything — forms a benchmark of ideal behavior for your little one to follow. It is, therefore, crucial that you set a positive example for your child to emulate. If you want your kid to learn the importance of being helpful, polite, generous, sympathetic and caring, you must be the one setting an example for the same. The negative impacts on your child of your disrespectful behavior towards, for example, a supermarket attendant or your better half are far worse than you can imagine.
- Volunteer, and Display Random Acts of Kindness — Sometimes the little things you do on a daily basis are what make a great impact on your child’s personality and behavioral development. Make it a point to volunteer with your child to feed the elderly at an old age home, or to play with and feed animals at an animal shelter every weekend. If you see a homeless person on the street, encourage your child to give him a sandwich you bought at a bakery next door. These activities will help your child think about the needs of others beyond self and family. It will make him/her more aware of the stark realities of life and become empathetic towards the struggles people face.
- Appreciate Kind Behavior — Words of appreciation and encouragement go far with little kids. Because your children look up to you for constant inspiration and approval, appreciation will do wonders to boost their morale and thus reinforce acts of kindness. Pat your child on the back each time you see him/her display a compassionate act, like feeding a dog on the road or giving a child at the park a chance to play on the swing.
- Encourage Moral Storytelling — One of the day’s most cherished moments for a little child is the time you spend reading a bedtime tale to him/her. Not only do stories encourage creative imagination in kids, but they also set the base for a lot of positive lessons. Ensure the stories you read to your child have a moral to learn from. Help your child build a connection with the characters of the story so as to learn from their mistakes, their journeys and their good deeds. You’ll be amazed to see the power of stories on your child’s learning.
The best way to encourage the feelings of compassion within your child is to ensure that your family as a whole stands up for empathy and humanity. The earlier you begin nurturing these feelings, the deeper they will be instilled in your little angel.
Aradhana is from India. She is a veteran writer on topics concerning parenting, child nutrition, wellness, health and lifestyle. As a regular contributor to popular sites like Huffington Post, Natural News, Elephant Journal, Thehealthsite, Naturally Savvy, Curejoy and MomJunction.com, Aradhana writes to inspire and motivate people to adopt healthy habits and live a stress-free lifestyle.