Compassion is defined as the sympathetic concern for another’s suffering or misfortune.

Children’s brains do not develop the ability feel malice or ill feelings until the age of 8 years of age. That said, they are naturally loving and compassionate, we just need to ensure we stay committed to helping them develop compassion in this busy fast paced digital age. 

In our technology driven world our children’s attention is largely focused on their devices than it is on the world around them and the people within it.

When we were children, we may have naturally been more compassionate as a result of this. As our eyes and ears may have been more freely available to have noticed situations to display compassion, like hugging our mother if she was crying and  or hug our sibling if they fell off the see-saw or scratched their knee.

It’s not our children’s fault that a lot of their “connection” to others is now virtual and most likely sent via an emoji.

Evolution is defined as: the process where living organisms develop from earlier forms.  Digital communication is not going away, it’s just that we need to make a conscious effort to ensure we’re ‘evolving’ into a superior race, and a more loving and compassionate one at that.

Raising children to be compassionate is one way to help them go through life passionately. They will be able to reach out to other people with their kindness, expression of sympathy, empathy and care.   

“Empathy is probably the greatest single gift of our species,” Bruce D. Perry, M.D (senior fellow at the Child Trauma Academy and the co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy Is Essential — and Endangered.) He has also said that, “We wouldn’t have been able to survive without creating relationships and groups that could function together.”

By showing empathy i.e. writing genuine thank-you notes, being consistent, boosting feelings vocabulary, praising each other daily, recognising kindness, addressing their needs and promoting emotional literacy you will enable a child to become more compassionate.

If you show your child how to empathise or become more understanding, you will help them in perceiving what is around them and perhaps gain more appreciation of what is in their community or help you solve problems that you may have.

Mother and her child, embracing with tenderness and care

Here are 15 ways to help raise compassionate children:

1: Writing your children genuine thank you notes will help them realise how their efforts are much appreciated.

2:  Boosting their feelings vocabulary will help them identify their emotions and they would be able to know what these emotions are; and perhaps know why they happen.

3: Praise each other daily to make each other feel good.

4:  Help them recognise kindness and make them realise that this is important in relationships ie recognising how you address their needs, like food, shelter and clothing to help them grow well. This takes a lot of effort but they need it to grow into happy beings.

5: Promoting emotional literacy will help your child know what are the emotions they are feeling and identify them well. 

6: Rule out unacceptable behaviour (even if it’s their birthday.) These behaviours should not be reinforced.

7: Teach them how to help others. Knowing how to help is a way of them showing their compassion.

8: Develop good manners should be encouraged to be part of their daily routine. This include saying thank you; or being thankful for what others have done for them.

9: Teach respect: help them realise that others have feelings, like them, and that others deserve for those feelings to be acknowledged.

10: Guide them to having meaningful friendships and try to outlaw name calling.

11: Show or let them know how to express their appreciation for kindness.

12: Try focus on becoming even more considerate yourself to help them know what being compassionate is about and do not speak ill will of others so that they do not emulate it.

13: Encourage your children to help. This characteristic of being compassionate is necessary to teach them kindness towards others.

14: Help them understand others’ feelings as well. Let them explore their feelings but monitor what they are seeing on media and expect more when it comes to your child’s responsibility to be more caring and compassionate.

15: Set high standards but try to find out if they are being bullied or teased because this might cause a burn out of compassion on their part. They might feel that they are not making a difference in this complicated and troubled world. Try to reinforce their efforts with love and care from your end.

Dr. Holly Ruhl, a Developmental Psychologist says, “Positive responses to children’s help seem to promote more helping behaviors when our little ones are first learning these skills. But as our toddlers become more proficient at helping, reinforcement may not be needed as much and may undermine intrinsic desires to help.”

 You might also like to read:

How to Raise Good Little People

The Long Road to Independence

How to Strengthen Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ)