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    Raising Compassionate Kids

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    Geo Beats

    by Geo Beats

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    Raising Compassionate Kids - as part of the expert series by GeoBeats. Hi, I am Dr. Laura Markham of ahaparenting.com. How can you raise a compassionate child? Well, the best way to do that is to parent from emotional intelligence, to raise a child who is emotionally intelligent. What do I mean? I mean that you raise a child who understands their own emotions and understands the emotions of other people, right? And the way we help kids do that is we empathize with them. So, when your little one has a big emotion, you say, “You are mad. You are frustrated. You are sad today,” right? You are empathizing with whatever your child is expressing to you. Instead of saying, “Go to your room until you can calm down,” you are saying, “You have got some big feelings. I am not leaving you alone with those big feelings. You can tell me all about them, sweetie.” Once your child calms down, then you can talk about appropriate behavior, right? But, start with empathy. That empathy is the foundation of all compassion for your child. The second thing you can do is soothe your child when your child is upset. Because even kids who have empathy, if they get upset and they cannot soothe themselves, those children cannot be compassionate to someone else. Right? Empathy is a natural human reaction. Even in a nursery, when babies cry other babies will begin crying because the neurons in the brain will hear the crying and start the other baby crying. So, we will see a preschool situation where a child cries, the other child sees the kid crying, feels like that same feelings themselves, feels like they are crying, and they go up, and they can do one of two things. They can feel the empathy and feel like, “OK, someone has soothed me in the past, and I am going to be able to soothe this kid. Here is your blankie.” And you might call the teacher, you know, the three year old might call the teacher, right? They are trying to soothe the other kid, or they might slug the other kid. And that is a child that is not been soothed themselves. So, that child actually does not know how to soothe another child and their feelings are getting out of hand. When they see someone else upset, their feelings go through the roof. Right? So, the most important thing is soothing your child. When your baby cries, pick him up and soothe him. When your two year old is upset, soothe him. Let him cry, let him get his feelings off his chest, but do it in your arms, in your presence, right? So, your child actually has a chance to feel his feelings, to let them out, and to recover from them. That is how you raise a compassionate child. The other two things you can do: You can be a role model of compassion. Instead of swearing at the person who cut you off in traffic, you can say, “Hey, man, you would get a lot more love if you did not cut people off in traffic.” Then you can turn to your child and say, “Guess he is having a hard day,” right? You are modeling. And finally, you can talk about the choices you are making, and the values that are important to your family, so your child understands that kindness, for instance, is a value that is dear to your heart. And that fairness, because you are compassionate, and you can see where someone is coming from is a value that is dear to your heart. If you talk about your choices, your child will have those same values and will make those same choices as he or she gets older.