In a world full of tension, intolerance, and bullying, it is hard not worrying about the type of person that your child becomes. You hope your child shows empathy, acts with integrity and is honest with everyone that they interact with.
There are factors that influence your child’s behavior and actions – like their peers, social media, the news, and other adults.
One of the biggest influencers, though, is you! Your child is attuned to everything that you say and do. This is why it is so important for you to lead by example and show and teach compassion.
For your child to be compassionate, they first are able to consider and understand the emotional state of another person or group. Compassion then goes one step beyond empathy, because your child then takes actions to improve or reduce any pain or suffering that other person or group is feeling.
Here are some of our favorite parenting tips and suggestions on things that you can do to help your child treat others with empathy, kindness, and respect.
Encourage Tolerance and Respect For Others
We live in a world where differences should be celebrated. Instead, differences — whether cultural, racial, religious, physical, or behavioral — are not always fully understood or respected.
Your child is not born with intolerance. They are a sponge that absorbs everything they hear from you, their peers, and the environment. This then influences how they view and treat others.
When your child asks questions about another person or group, the way that you react and respond feeds your child’s perception. If you ‘shush’ or ignore their questions, your child may interpret that to mean there is something negative or bad with what they asking.
Use their questions as a teachable moment. Have an open conversation and remind your child to always treat others with respect and to be a friend to all.
Participate in Acts of Kindness
There are many ways for you and your child to get involved in the community or lend a helping hand to others. Even small acts of kindness help your child grow more compassionate!
First, sit down with your child and discuss ways that they can help others. Use ‘imagine’ situations to tap into your child’s feelings as they put themselves into another person’s shoes.
Once your child becomes more aware of others and develops empathy, it is easier for them to suggest possible acts of kindness that can make a difference.
Also, many acts of kindness and volunteer opportunities have no financial cost to you! Here are some of our favorite suggestions that can help brighten or impact someone else’s day:
Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, and there are many different places or organizations where your child can help. You can contact animal shelters, food banks, or visit this site for local volunteering suggestions. Some organizations have a minimum age requirement for volunteering, so you may need to supervise and join your child.
2. Donating Allowance Money
Does your child collect a weekly allowance or have tasks that they can do around the house to raise a little money? Have them choose a charity that they can donate a percentage of their allowance to. You can locate and learn more about different charity groups here. One fun way to raise money this summer is by creating a lemonade stand. Your child can then donate the proceeds to the charity of their choice.
3. Collecting Donations
Instead of raising money, your child can turn to the community and collect donations. Shelters and organizations greatly appreciate item donations, like hygiene products, clothes, shoes, books, or toys. Your child can create flyers and place them in mailboxes or hang them in local businesses. Be sure that the flyers have information on the items that they are collecting and specify the location of a drop-off box or collection point.
4. Tutoring and Coaching
Your child can help a sibling, friend, or peer in need by spending time with them after school or on the weekend. They can become a science or math tutor that helps with tricky math word problems. It’s not just academics your child can help with! They can also take on the role of a sports coach and spend time at the park helping with soccer penalty kicks or basketball free throws.
5. Small Acts of Kindness
There are other little things that your child can do to help others. Holding the door open for others, shoveling snow off a neighbor’s driveway, or carrying in groceries for an elderly neighbor are all moments that show compassion. You can talk to your child to see if they brainstorm ideas on their own. If they’re having trouble thinking of ideas, there are many websites that share and list acts of kindness to get them started.
You also want to model or involve yourself in the activities or process as much as possible.
Your child is influenced by what you do and has, “an uncanny ability to distinguish between adults who only talk a good game and those who play the game by the rules they preach.” (Karen Stephens).
Teach Fairness and Set Expectations
Your child is exposed to hatred and bullying in school, social media, and the news. It is unavoidable, which is why it is important that you open the doors for discussion with your child and set behavioral expectations.
Monitor what your child is watching and listen to what they say. If they watch a show or movie and the characters have questionable behaviors or actions, pause the program and talk about it.
If your child says or does something that doesn’t demonstrate fairness and respect, discuss what they did and discipline as needed. This way your child learns and grows from the moment.
For example, if your child is playing with a sibling and steals a toy that the other was using, first talk about what they did. Discuss why their sibling’s feelings are hurt and why taking an object from someone else without asking isn’t fair. You can then set expectations and consequences if it happens again in the future.
Set The Example For Who You Want Your Child to Be
Remember, your child absorbs and observes everything! They are quick to pick up on any of your cues and encouraged by your actions and responses. This is why it is so important to practice what you say and model compassion.
Be sure to surround yourself with people and companies that breathe the same ethos!
At Thinkster, we encourage our students to grow into compassionate thinkers. We want our students ready to solve problems that they see in the world around them.
This is one of the reasons why we give, not only critical thinking and reasoning problems, but problems that relate to the real world! Once your child observes and is aware of the problems around them, then they are able to work on solving these problems with compassion.
Our math tutors also work with students to ensure that they act with respect, kindness, integrity, and compassion. You can read more about our company and our purpose here.