Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three Ways To Develop Compassionate Children

After the recent earthquake and tsunami devastation in Japan, a local Girl Scout Troop at my school approached the principal about helping out. The concerned scout informed him that they wanted to collect donations from students "to help the people in Japan who had been hit by a giant salami". 

Teaching children how to be generous and compassionate is an important concept.  In our 'Me First' society where coming out on top and beating out the competition is strongly promoted, we have a responsibility as parents, teachers and counselors to teach children that everyone, no matter their income or life circumstances can help someone else.  In our busy lives how do we do this?  Here's three easy ways:
  1. Make giving a daily concern by teaching them to look for and respond to the little ways every day that they can be helpful to others in their own world.  Can they give someone a hug who is feeling down?  Can they help someone else with a chore even though it really isn't their job?  Can they give a compliment to someone rather than criticize them?
  2. When responding to a world tragedy such as the disaster in Japan, find a way that the child can give something personally.  Earning money by completing extra chores, asking for donations instead of birthday presents, even donating used toys or clothing is much more meaningful than dropping off canned goods that mom picked up at the store for them.
  3. Participate as a family in activities that model caring for others. Children will remember the Christmas they sang carols at an assisted living facility or served a Thanksgiving meal at a homeless shelter.  Discuss the needs of others and how giving to others makes us all better people. 
Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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