Imbibing compassion in children

Imbibing compassion in children

How important is compassion and empathy in children?

Before we answer this question, let us understand what compassion and empathy means. In short, empathy and compassion are skin and bone of kindness.  If you empathise with someone you have the ability to look at the other person’s problem, feel their emotions and understand their perspective which leads us to compassion. Compassion is the urge to help those people whom you empathise.

Now coming back to answer the question of how important is imbibing compassion and empathy in children?

Contrary to some beliefs that compassion and empathy needs to be developed at adolescence, it should be developed at primary or middle-age children. Imbibing these two elements of character lets the children to grow it stronger by days and by the time they reach the teen years these elements would have reached deep within the character of the child which would have helped them to shape their personality.

Apart from just developing a personality that has the element of compassion, it enables the child to understand the world and the society. His/her reaction will have an emotional response filled with empathy leading to association with human, animal and environmental distress; making the child to be more caring and understanding towards those around.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” — Dalai Lama.

Steps to imbibe compassion within children.

Children identify compassion through their family members, neighbours, friends, teachers and the society. While these surroundings are important, the most important aspect is the family, friends, and school at the early years of life, the child here is imbibed with half of the compassion it will ever learn. Let’s look at some ways how to work on imbibing compassion in children:

  • Teaching children to identify emotions and feeling:

Before a child can sympathise or empathise others they need to understand their own emotions. This is the first step towards developing compassion in children. The parents or the guardians can ask the child if the child is angry, or sad, or guilty in situations that occur. Once the child identifies the emotion, the parent can guide the child towards a path of kindness.

  • Teaching sympathy:

Now that your child has understood his/her feelings, teaching them about sympathy becomes easy. Every day is an opportunity for a child to learn new things, and we can introduce sympathy in our day-to-day lives. Let’s take an example If your child has a friend who has hurt himself/herself during a game, you can ask your child “Isn’t Neha sad because she hurt himself?”

The other method where you can teach your child how it feels in other’s shoes can be through stories/movies, etc.  When you are watching a movie like Finding Nemo, you can ask “Nemo was just captured, do you think he is afraid?” Likewise, you can introduce other emotions.

  • Teaching to be a helping hand:

The next and final step would be to teach your child to extend a helping. Here you teach them to take empathy to compassion. Now that the child understands other’s suffering he/she can be a problem solver.

Allow the child to recognise how they can help the person in need. For instance, “Neha is sad after hurting herself. How can you help her feel better?  The child can come with many answers like “we can give her a chocolate or give her a hug” all the answers are right. Encourage them in every manner they want to help.

We also need to teach the child about problem prevention. For Instance “Do you think Nemo would have been captured if he had listened to his father and not swam to the deep waters?” This way your child will not just learn compassion, but also that all actions have consequences.

Teaching compassion just does not limit to the movies or playground. We as parents need to let our children know about the world. The situation around the world will make them understand the need for compassion is of utmost importance. Most parents shield or censor news, making them live inside a bubble, making it difficult to exercise the muscle of compassion.

Once your child exercises the compassion muscle, take part in events such as charity drives, travel the world or city or orphanages or animal shelters.  After all, the world is never enough to receive compassion!! With these efforts, we will raise a compassionate new generation!

We here at Sherwood high adopt various methodologies which revolve around these values. The teachers here focus on training children to be empathetic. The Sherwood High community takes care of everyone and looks to it that the students are imbibed with all-round development which is parallel to reality.

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