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From people exchanging harsh words online to even hurting each other in public, it goes without saying that the world is becoming a less kind place to live in by the day. With today’s current events, it isn’t surprising that we found compassion to be the most important value in our Lockdown Values Poll.

No matter how bleak things appear to be today, there will always be hope for a better, brighter future. This is because compassion is a value that anyone can develop — especially when it is taught at home.

What Exactly is Compassion?

Generally speaking, compassion is a concern that one has for the suffering of others. But there’s more to it than simply feeling bad, as it calls you to not only understand another person’s struggle, but also to help them overcome it. For instance, the Black Lives Matter movement has united different groups of people to rally against the systemic racism experienced by the Black community.

Another way that we can practice compassion is by being kinder to ourselves. With self-compassion, we refuse to be harsh on ourselves, whether through criticism or doubt. Rather, we treat ourselves with the kindness we deserve by forgiving our mistakes, and believing we can do better.

Compassion is key to building a kinder world. Indeed, Dr. Seth J. Gillihan, an assistant clinical psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, highlights how being compassionate is part of being human. To this end, we must teach our children to be compassionate early on, so everyone can be more understanding and helpful human beings in the face of discrimination, injustice, or hatred.

How Can We Raise Compassionate Children?

Of course, there is no right or wrong way to parent, especially when it comes to teaching your children values like compassion.

Instead, the best way forward is to try your best to model compassion in your day-to-day life — something that Angie Walston, certified family life educator, a human development and family studies instructor at Maryville University, and mom of three, emphasises in her C-3 Parenting approach. Here, she points out three words that parents can keep at the centre of their parenting efforts: compassionate, consistent, and calibrating. It’s important for parents to not only practice compassion to and around their children, but to be consistent in doing so and constantly discerning over how best to improve their actions.

Since children still have a lot to learn about their emotions, it’s important to help them identify and understand what they’re feeling. Let’s say, they teased a classmate of theirs. Instead of scolding them right away, ask them first to place themselves in the shoes of the person they hurt to help them realise that their words matter. You can also show them how to respond if they get teased by teaching them that anger isn’t the solution. Another way you can raise more compassionate children is by presenting them with opportunities where they can practice this value, like volunteering at a shelter or donating to a food pantry.

Whatever way you teach compassion, always remember to lead with love. A study published in the Developmental Psychology Journal on Pub Med found that children who received emotional warmth from their parents are highly likely to become compassionate adults. As their parents, you set the standard for your child. For example, when you show them respect, they’ll learn to be respectful.

At the end of the day, you lay the foundation for your child’s emotional development. Your guidance is the key to raising a generation through whom kindness and understanding can flourish in society.

Written by Lydia Holland exclusively for worldvaluesday.com