4 Ways to Instill Compassion in Your Child
With a few clicks separating us from people across the globe, we already live in a hyper-connected world. And as our children grow, it will only get smaller.
This makes it more important than ever to expand our children’s horizons beyond our own back doors. Teaching them about problems and solutions that affect the global population — and explaining how they fit into the mix — will shape how they view and interpret the world.
As parents, we want to inspire compassion in our children, and our words and actions bear the most weight on shaping the people they become.
So how do we nurture more empathetic children? Here are four practical tips for encouraging your children to lead more caring and considerate lives:
1. Be selective about how you present information. For example, will you talk about suffering people as “helpless victims whose lives are shaped by their circumstances” or “empowered leaders who are making history through their bravery”?
This can also mean defying stereotypes to broaden your children’s perspectives.
As much as I love Wonder Woman and every superhero in the Justice League, our society presents them as role models whose responsibility was thrust upon them. Instead, let’s teach our kids to view real-life problem solvers and ordinary people who act compassionately and selflessly as the world’s superheroes. Then they’ll feel in control of their own destinies and empowered to make a change.
2. Expose them to disadvantages and advantages. When your children understand the dire situations of others, they’ll naturally feel more grateful for the blessings in their own lives. Be careful not to pity others, though. Think of it as an opportunity to teach your kids about the innovations and heroism of the people working to improve these awful situations.
Learning about the reality of global issues and the terrible things happening in the world can be scary and difficult for children to digest. But ignoring depressing world events altogether will only harm them in the future by instilling a sense of helplessness.
3. Connect your children with the world abroad. When we educate children about the rest of the world — diverse people, ideologies, and issues — and reveal commonalities, they’ll feel more invested in helping others.
As you discuss global issues or read stories, point out ways your children can identify with others across the world. Once they learn to connect with diverse groups of people and sympathize with their harsh realities, they’ll feel a sense of meaning in giving back and place a higher value on humanity.
4. Build hope through humor and celebration. There are everyday champions making sacrifices for the benefit of mankind everywhere you look. Making a conscious effort to acknowledge these acts of selflessness will encourage your children to find the bright side in every situation. Laughter is the best medicine, and teaching our kids not to take life too seriously all the time will mold them into more positive people.
Relaying stories of bravery also emphasizes the importance of being solution-oriented. The more we teach our children about the world abroad and how people are solving problems, the harder they will push themselves to think of creative solutions.
As parents, our children normalize every move we make. When they hear a scathing, one-sided reaction to a social issue, that becomes their baseline response. Teaching our children to be more compassionate humans starts with practicing it ourselves.
Behind all the negativity flooding the news, there are good people working diligently to improve it. By finding the inspiring nuggets in these stories and instilling in our children a sense of social responsibility and compassion, we can raise a world of socially conscious individuals who break down barriers to drive real innovation and change.
Mina Chang is CEO and president of Linking the World, an international humanitarian aid organization with a focus on children, global awareness, and breaking the cycle of poverty around the world. Linking the World has been saving lives and transforming communities since 1997 through its unique emphasis on partnerships to kindle hope. Mina is the mother of a 9 year old; both reside in Dallas, TX.