Raising children is no joke. You don’t just have to ensure that their physical needs are met, but you also have to raise them to be good, law-abiding citizens. Before they can even become law-abiding citizens, they first must be compassionate individuals who can understand others and reach out to them on a personal level.
But how do we raise compassionate children? Being compassionate is difficult as it is; raising children to become one is even more challenging. Here are some tips to help you out.
Be a Model
The number one thing you can do to raise your children into becoming proper citizens is to be one yourself. Children easily pick up on what the people around them do, and those they spend most of their time with — their family — largely influence their behaviors. As mentioned before, parents sometimes feel that they’re not adequate enough to be a “good model” to their children. But it’s not being the paragon of a “good model” that’s important — it’s showing that you’re trying the best you can to be one. It’s in trying that we show the true value of being kind, and children will see that and hopefully emulate it.
Let Them Learn from Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, regardless of who they are. When children make mistakes, they can often take them rather seriously. Especially when they accidentally hurt their friends or loved ones, they can feel guilt and respond to it negatively. When this happens, it’s best to remind them that it’s okay to make mistakes. We can learn from them, and that’s the lesson that our children need to learn. Life is full of choices, and we will inevitably make the wrong ones. Learning from mistakes we make is crucial to moving forward as a person.
Teach Emotional Literacy
Children as young as three years old can recognize emotions and understand why they feel a certain way. This is called emotional literacy, and developing it while they’re young is the key to raising compassionate and empathetic children. Before they can understand the emotions of others, they need to come to terms with their own first. They need to understand what emotion it is they’re feeling, why they’re feeling it, and how to communicate said emotion. Emotional literacy is a skill that we can all benefit from, and it provides children with a way to navigate our social world better.
Positive Reinforcement instead of Punishments
When your children show good behavior, it’s best to reward them with positive reinforcement. Reward them with something appropriate — perhaps their favorite sticker from a novelty shop or a cone of ice cream with their favorite flavor. Rewarding the good instead of punishing the bad is a rather effective way of encouraging your children to be kind. Punishing bad behavior usually just teaches them to “avoid getting caught,” while rewarding good behavior shows that being kind has a lot more positives. Of course, be wise when it comes to rewarding your children because you don’t want them to act kindly only to expect a prize every time.
Always Be Communicating
Remember that as parents, we have a far higher understanding than children. Whenever you need them to do something or if they have done something hurtful toward others, do not simply tell them off. More importantly, do your best not to raise your voice at the child. Calmly explain the situation to them and tell them why what they did is wrong. By communicating in a calm way, you’re showing your child that most things can be resolved through polite discussion. You’re imparting the value of communication and being cordial. These are things that will benefit them throughout their whole life, and it’s best taught at an early age so it’s ingrained in their personality.
Teaching your children about people’s differences helps them become more compassionate people. In their life, they will meet people from all walks of life, and being respectful to anyone regardless of their background, race, or appearance is important. For adults, it’s often quite a difficult topic to breach, but teaching children about diversity is a lot easier than most people think. Have a conversation with your child about how diverse people are. Teach them about the different ethnicities, religions, and languages and teach them to celebrate these differences rather than rejecting them instead.
As parents, we might feel that we’re not adequate. That’s fine — even parents have their insecurities. But it’s through the awareness and the acceptance of what we can and cannot do that we learn to improve. This will reflect on our children as well.