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10 From GEM: 10 Ways To Teach Your Kids Compassion


Creative Commons/adrielsocrates

Creative Commons/adrielsocrates

10 From GEM:

10 Ways To Teach Your Kids Compassion

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”

–Arthur Schopenhauer

Compassion enables us to connect to human suffering and act in ways that bring comfort to others. Drawing on our reserves of compassion can help us to be magnanimous, especially when others behave less than positively. Research shows that compassion is learned through many experiences with the world and that children who engage in compassionate activities develop into caring and optimistic adults. A good reason to teach our kids compassion, right? Read on for 10 ways to do just that.

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Creative Commons/Ed Yourdon

Creative Commons/Ed Yourdon

Compassion is an area where “do as I say, not as I do” simply will not work. If you want compassionate children, you have to start with building your own compassion. Commit random acts of kindness. Treat every person you meet with respect and dignity, even the ones who don’t “deserve” it. Never pass up an opportunity to let your children see what compassion looks like in real life situations.

Read more: Ask Rene: What Should I Say To My Neighbor?


Creative Commons/veyan1977

Creative Commons/veyan1977

This sounds pretty obvious and you probably already do this. When you take action like tend to your son when he’s sick or sympathize with your daughter when she doesn’t make the volleyball team, you’re showing them that they are loved and worthy of compassion. When compassion is directed to kids, they are far more likely to give it to others.

Read more: Ask Rene: My Mom Won’t Let Me Live My Life!


Compassionate Kids is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping teach children compassion towards the Earth, people, and animals. The website has articles, book reviews, free printable activities, links to great resources from related websites, and information about joining or creating a local chapter. There are local chapters all across the country that host compassion-oriented field trips and community service events Field trips and events vary and are always related to compassion. A field trip to an organic farm can teach about helping the Earth. A canned food drive benefits people. A visit to an animal sanctuary teaches about the value of all living creatures.

Read more: What I’ll Tell My Kids About: The Steubenville Rape Case


Creative Commons/stephanski

Creative Commons/stephanski

As a complement to seeing compassion in action, talk about compassion with your children. Point it out when you see it. Look for compassionate acts in movies or on television shows. If you witness cruelty with your children, point that out as well and ask them what benevolent acts could take its place.

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5. DO A 180

Creative Commons/mapled

Creative Commons/mapled

I just read about a woman who does a “180” whenever she gets angry about something someone has done. She replaces the anger by flipping her thoughts and comes up with all the reasons why the person did what they did. For example, sometimes customers behave badly with her at her job. When they yell and scream, she thinks, maybe this woman is going through an ugly divorce or perhaps this man just lost his job. Of course, doing a 180 doesn’t excuse bad behavior, but she knows that their anger isn’t about her and it does help her feel compassion for them. Practice this yourself and show your children how to do it.

Read more: The GEM Debate: Is Chaz Bad For Children?


Creative Commons/John Edwards 2008

Creative Commons/John Edwards 2008

Volunteering with your children is a meaningful way to show compassion in action. Together, you are actively thinking about how to meet the needs of other people. Also, ask your children how they would like to volunteer their time. It’s great if you want to take them to a homeless shelter to pass out meals, but if they would find it more meaningful to volunteer at a pet rescue, please consider it.

Read more: Monday Morning Motivation: Sometimes You Have To Look Back To Go Forward


Creative Commons/Jerry

Creative Commons/Jerry

Many children’s stories teach values and lessons and it’s easy to find ones that focus on compassion. When children read—or anyone for that matter—they are taken into the minds and lives of other people, even fictional ones. They get to see the world through a new lens. Reading is a great way to bring out empathetic feelings. In addition, you can read stories about compassionate people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Elie Wiesel, Mother Theresa, Mohandas Gandhi, and spiritual and religious leaders.

Read more: Monday Morning Motivation: From Basketball To The Boardroom.. What You Can Learn From My Kid’s Tryout


Creative Commons/Reeturshi

Creative Commons/Reeturshi

At home is where children learn about the importance of helping others and having age-appropriate chores facilitates this. After all, you are a family and ideally, family members should take care of one another. Children feel capable when they have a job to do that is just theirs and maybe even the one they do best. Those capable feelings are further intensified when they understand that their actions contribute to the lives of their parents, siblings, and other family members.

Read more: Raising Gaybies: The Mommy Particle


Creative Commons/Pet-Boy

Creative Commons/Pet-Boy

A pet does not fit everybody’s lifestyle, but if it makes sense for your family then consider getting a pet. It provides kids with the opportunity to learn about unconditional love, responsibility, selflessness, and, of course compassion for all living things.

Read more: Bringing Up Baby: A Moment In Time.. They Won’t Be Tiny Forever


Creative Commons/rileyxcm

Creative Commons/rileyxcm

If you let it be known that compassion is important to you and your family, then your children will absorb that message. You can set high expectations by naturally addressing instances when your children are compassionate. Let them know that you are proud of them and that they should be proud of themselves.

Read more: The GEM Debate: Is THIS How We Prepare Kids For Life? (POLL)


So, how about you? What do you do with your kids to encourage compassion? Leave your thoughts below.

More From GEM:

Breaking The Adult Rules: Lessons I Learned From A Trip With My Son

Smack In The Middle: Why My Parenting Has To Change… And Me With It

10 From GEM: 10 “Notes To Self” To Remember Every Day


picmonkey alexis

 Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is a writer, a work at home mother, and a new business owner. Read more about Alexis on her blog, email her at, or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5.



























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