Our current education system places a lot of value on grades and achievement. While every parent wants their children to be successful, having empathy and caring for others is just as important. Kindness and compassion are crucial values that will serve your children well as they move into the adult world. For this reason, teaching kids to care can be a rewarding activity and help them to develop into healthy, kind-hearted adults.
There are many ways of instilling positive values in young people, and the key is for the parent to take the lead. Show your little ones how you take care of others, volunteer and help out together, speak about your feelings, and use media such as books to demonstrate how important and precious life is. Let’s have a closer look at how you can teach your children about compassion and empathy.
9 Ways of Teaching Kids to Care for Others
1. Talk about Feelings
2. Expose them to Nature
The natural world is full of wonder for young children, and they can often relate to animals very well. In the beginning, exploring various feelings using animal friends can be easier than jumping straight to people. Many parents have found that incorporating nature in discussions about empathy can be very effective and make the process fun.
Visit the zoo, a farm, or the local park often and speak about the animals you see. Are they happy or sad? Cold or warm? What are the farmers, zookeepers, or park wardens doing to help them? You should also let your child interact with them. When they pull an animal’s tail or hit it, you can explain that this hurts, demonstrating that other beings have feelings that must be respected. When they are gentle and stroke the animals, you can praise them.
3. Use Children’s Books as a Conversation Starter
With the assistance of this and other works, you can instill a sense of wonder in your child and show them how important every living being is. A story can be the starting point for important discussions that touch on concepts such as the cycle of life and the importance of every individual. Teaching kids to care is easy once they understand how sacred and precious their and others’ lives are.
4. Set a Good Example
You can’t succeed in teaching your children good values if you don’t practice them yourself. They watch your every move, and for the first years of their life, you are their primary role model. That’s why examining your own actions and making sure your children see you caring for others is crucial. If you have a job that involves looking after people, you could take your children with you and show them what you do.
If not, there are plenty of other ways to set a good example. You can volunteer, be kind to your neighbors, help out elderly or disabled friends and family members, and donate money to causes you care about. Include your children in these actions and explain to them why you are doing these things. When they see you caring for the well-being of others, they will naturally want to be involved.
5. Acknowledge Positive Actions
6. Expose them to Various People
Almost every child has some contact with people from different age groups and backgrounds. They might interact with grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings or cousins of a different gender, and their parents’ friends. But there is always room for increased diversity. Aside from spending time with their relatives and peers, you could encourage your children to meet others in different situations.
For example, you might expose them to other children with disabilities, so they lose their fear of those who have varying abilities and approach others with more compassion. If all parents went out of their way to expose their children to diverse people, many of our current societal issues might no longer exist.
7. Practice Caring for Others Together
If this is not an option or you’d like to take things a step further, you could help people outside of your household. For example, you might have elderly relatives who would be grateful if you visited or ran errands. Take your children with you on such trips, so they see that you incorporate kindness into your day-to-day life.
8. Look into Volunteering
To get started, you could have a family meeting and speak about the kinds of tasks you might be interested in. You could discuss what needs there are in your community and how they could be met. Then, you can coordinate your schedules and figure out a good time for everyone in your family to help out in the local area.
9. Team Up with Other Parents
Parenting is hard, especially when you are trying to raise responsible and kind-hearted young adults. For this reason, teaming up with other parents can be a great idea. There might be families in your area or at your church who are at a similar stage and interested in exchanging ideas. Even if your children are still very young, interacting with others from a different household could be a great idea.
For instance, you could team up with a family that has younger or older children. That way, your little ones will learn more about the needs of children of different ages. They can learn to negotiate in a group and play together, respecting the abilities and desires of others who are different from them.
Teaching children about compassion and empathy is crucial because it helps them to develop into healthy and kind adults. There are many activities you can do together with your little ones that will teach them about caring for others. For example, you could read books, meet different people, volunteer together, and frequently speak about your feelings. In fact, it’s easy to incorporate teaching kids to care into everyday life.
Concepts such as empathy can be emphasized throughout your children’s day. The best way of instilling them is often to be a role model and demonstrate how you help out. By teaming up with other parents, you can give your child a broader range of experiences and allow them to interact with children. Get in touch with Krystle Joy DeGraide today to find out more about her life-affirming book or to get more tips about raising confident yet compassionate children.