We’ve heard a lot recently about bullies and violent kids. But HOW do we raise a compassionate child, a kid with a heart who shares with others or helps those who are being mistreated?
Teach Kids to Handle Peer Pressure
Take every opportunity to talk aout having compassion for others and doing the right thing despite the peer pressure to do the opposite. Tell our kids to put themselves in the shoes of others who are being bullied or teased, and see how they would feel being taunted.
Also let our kids know that those who bully in school perhaps are often bullied at home and they need to have some compassion for friends who bullied.
Emphasize Respect for Others
Make it a point to show our children injustices and how to respect others. Tell them that they don’t have to be someone’s best friend to show respect.
My friend’s son was telling us how some students were being mean and making fun of one of the special education students (retarded or handicapped). He said that he was kind to the retarded kid and talked with her. My friend was so proud that her son had shown respect for this child and did not join in with the other kids. Whenever we see something or hear of someone being treated unfairly, take that time to teach our kids what compassion is.
Involve Other Caring Adults
As parents, we are their first teachers, and children are very quick to mimic what we say and do. If they’re exposed at an early age to others who are also compassionate, loving, respectful people–grandparent, aunts, uncles, etc.–that gives them a solid foundation to be that way themselves.
Spoiling is number one…this newfangled stuff where we are supposed to turn kids into selfish care bears who think they are “special”…that isn’t conducive to a caring attitude. “Princess Syndrome” is rampant nowadays. Ya know, the self-esteem thing: “I’m special and beautiful ‘cuz I got born.” Self-respect is earned by doing the right thing.
Don’t abuse or spoil…make sure the kiddies earn the right to feel special. That creates future caring adults.
Appreciate a Sensitive Temperament
I was an introverted and empathetic child. It was difficult for me growing up for various reasons. I wanted to add something. In my adult years I have learned that being introverted and empathic are wonderful qualities. If your children are either or both, there are really good books available. One is for raising highly sensitive children and the other is for raising introverted kids. Dont forget to always turn to Allah or help and guidance.
Get Them to Think Before They Act
We teach our kids by making them think about what they are doing. Explain that we must be gentle and kind to every animal, even people. Because it’s awful to be hurt, and no one likes to be hurt. To this day my kids defend anyone they see being picked on.
Take Time to Explain
When I was little I was confused because people would tell me “that is the way it is” with never an explanation. [As a mother,] I always tell my children from beginning to end why certain things are the way they are. My daughter told me on Mother’s Day, “The reason I love you is because you always tell me the truth.” My children amaze me with small and large acts of kindness despite the odds and trials Allah has set upon us. I suppose, the best way to teach them is to be an example yourself!
I believe we first must have those qualities if we want to teach our children. Naturally, they listen to about 20% of what we say and 40% of what we do…and the remainder will be outside influence. If your child has a friend that is less fortunate than him and wants to share his toys, a compassionate parent encourages that or suggests that, because we know in the end material things mean nothing. Parents are not required to be perfect, but if we analyze ourselves from time to time, then our children will be just fine.
Help Them Stand Alone
It’s rare to see kids possess the strength of character to support those who are picked on. A lot of kids I know or have observed are so very conscious of appearing out of place, they would never dream of going against the crowd. I’m thinking that one thing compassionate kids need to understand is that they sometimes have to stand up alone against a crowd or do the opposite of what the majority are doing. Hope they have support–like their parents–behind them.
– always concerned & worried –