Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Where Compassion Begins!


We all think we know just how important compassion really is and many of us even think of ourselves as compassionate. But for the most part it's not until your sick and in need of human kindess and compassion that you learn how compassionate (or NOT) the people around you are.

It is believed that we undergo hard times just to learn how to be more compassionate after someone else befalls the same fate. With my recent health scare and horrific hospital stay I quickly learned how compassionate and in some cases what a lack of compassion the people around me exhibited. Oddly enough sometimes during times of stress or illness you will find complete strangers show you more kindness and compassion than people you love and trust.

How can we turn this around? You cannot change someone's true nature, but if you are a parent, you have a shot at raising a compassionate human being, one who shows kindess to others when it's needed most.

Raising Compassionate Children

Compassion is one of those character traits that some children seem to possess in abundance right from the beginning, while others appear to have a woefully short supply of it. There's the tiny tot who runs right over to his friend when he falls, places an arm around that friend's shoulder, and inquires: "Are you okay?" Meanwhile, his peers gawk awkwardly, or continue about their business.

If it's not in your child's nature to be the compassionate one, know that this is completely normal. Many young children simply don't know how to express compassion, or are not tuned in to others' feelings. But you can introduce your child to the significance of compassion and how to express it. Here are some concrete ways how.

Nurture the idea of our connectedness to communities. All children live in a community and spend time daily with a community of peers, whether in a child care or school setting. Talk with your child about how important these communities are to us, what we get out of them, and how we can give back to them, e.g., taking part in 'stream clean up days' or similar community-wide events. The dynamic and reciprocal relationship that exists among healthy communities and their members represents an expression of compassion.

Assign to your child the responsibility of caring for something. Start with a small but significant task. If you have a pet, you can make its daily feeding your child's responsibility. Make sure your child understands the importance of what she's doing, and how this other being relies on her assistance.

Provide your children with the vocabulary of compassion. You're at the playground and the little boy swinging next to your son tumbles to the ground. This is an opportunity for you to say to your child: "Let's make sure that little boy is okay. Why don't we ask him if he is hurt, and if he needs some help." The first few times this happens, your child may just watch as you talk. But over time, he may find the courage to approach another child in need, and he'll know what to say.

Nurture your child's compassionate "niche." Some kids who see an injured bird on the sidewalk have an overwhelming urge to nurse it back to health. Others might walk right by the bird, but be the first to reach their friend who has taken a spill. Encourage your child's compassion in whatever form you find it. There's no one way, or right way, to show it.

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FTC Disclosure: This article was provided and sponsored by Kiddie Academy®. The company has been a leader in education-based childcare for 30 years serving families and their children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, offering full time care, before- and after-school care and summer camp programs. You can visit the KA Family Essentials blog and LIKE them on FB as well as Twitter @KiddieAcademy for additional information.


  1. I believe compassion starts with each one of us. When you have children you learn compassion from them. I remember when my son was in the hospital with a second burst appendix. (Yes that's right.) It burst and took two years to heal but it healed. The doctors told me there was nothing wrong with my child and sent him home. He was hurting so bad and looked like he came out of a concentration camp. All bones. They sent him home and I did my best to take care of him and with prayer begging God to spare his life he lived only to go through it again.) The doctor who did his surgery two years later asked if it had ever happened before and I gave him the date when he as hospitalized and was told nothing was wrong with him. The doctor said he could see where it burst and healed up and then burst on the other side. Through all this I learned that compassion comes from Jesus Christ the most compassionate man who ever lived gave me the strentgh to do what I needed to do. I never left my son's side for the nine days he was in the hospital except to go home to shower and change every few days. But I barely had time to eat or do anything else. I had to deal with the uncompassionate doctors and nurses myself. One night nurse was wonderful. But the rest of the staff was horrible. I have to say the surgeon was great. I fed him, bathed him and took care of him night and day.

    One day he looked up at me and said,"Mom, you're so good and kind to me." It broke my heart that he had to find out how much he was loved by going through so much. But that's how God teaches us. When we go through rough times it's not so much how people have treated us but how did we respond. We can't expect people to treat us with kindness and love if we don't have it ourselves. It's not a nice world out there all the time. But regardless. God loves us in spite of ourselves. There are a lot of hurting people out there that don't know how much they're really loved. But they can't show compassion if they don't have love in their heart and they can't have that kind of love unless they know that God gave his only begotten up to die for us. How much compassion is that? In other words living in a pretty much Godless society don't expect to get any compassion because God is the example of true compassion.

    I don't know what other people go through in their daily life so I can't judge them. I just know I'm responsible before God for my own actions as others well be too. Love means we love those that don't necessary love us. It's hard to love the unlovely but it's possible. It's not about race or religion it's about loving those who aren't compassionate. I thought I was loving my child but when he was so sick I had do really do a lot more. I still had four other children at home and my husband was out of town and my family lives two thousand miles away. I was so worn out I didn't have a stick of strength to crack a smile much less show any compassion for anyone else. That's life. We all do what we can when can. Some people get so busy they forget about others. We'll all be tested. My best to you. Hope you're recovering well and get through this emotionally as well as physically. You will you know. God Bless.

    1. I am so glad that your son pulled through BOTH times, that is a gift from God, and him giving you the strength to fight for him is also an amazing gift. I definitely agree that compassion comes from receiving it, which is the point I try to convey in this post. Raising a compassionate child is our society's best shot at a more loving planet!

      ♥ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

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