Teaching Children Compassion
If my children grow up to be compassionate, my job as a mother will have been a success.
Confidence is important too, but without compassion, it might not have the catalyst to be channeled in the best way. Yes, if I had to choose one trait I’d wish to instill in my children, it would be compassion.
Sadly, it’s easy to normalize the violence and craziness that has become our new normal. It’s scarily easy to be desensitized to the tragedy-filled headlines we’ve become accustomed to reading. In our hyper-connectivity, we can’t shut out the bad.
Sometimes leading by example doesn’t cut the mustard and we can use the help of visual aids. To that end, I did some research on children’s books that help drive home the message of compassion. We all want a safe and beautiful world in which to raise our children but we only have the power to control our own environment, and that starts at home.
First impressions may not be what they seem. When a new boy moves into the neighborhood, a father devises a plan to facilitate an unlikely friendship by using a recipe called “Enemy Pie”. As he instructs his son, one of the steps is to spend a whole day playing with the enemy. The book endearingly examples the struggles and benefits of making new friends, and the surprise outcomes that arise from preconceived notions.
Pete the Cat: Rock on Mom and Dad (Gratitude)
I love love love the message of this book! How many times do moms and dads go un-thanked and seemingly unappreciated? Pete is determined to show his gratitude to his parents, whom he recognizes do so much for him, and ultimately learns it’s not the size or type of gift, but the gratitude that comes from deep within that matters.
Maddi’s Fridge (Poverty/Hunger)
Two friends enjoy each other’s company. They go to school together and play together, yet one has a very different home life. She doesn’t always have the energy to keep up with her friend because she doesn’t have enough food to eat. This book so artfully and beautifully raises awareness about poverty and child hunger. Maddi’s friend is thoughtful enough to pack extra food in her lunch to feed her friend but they sometimes spoil before lunchtime. So she and her mother brainstorm ways in which to help Maddi and her family. This is a thought-provoking book to help you and your child form a discussion on possible ways to help curb hunger in your community.
What better way to teach compassion than by empowering your little one with the tools they need to keep the planet green and clean? This book cleverly showcases different ways and tips with which even the youngest member in your family can help. Caring for the planet teaches compassion that can be transferred to other aspects of life
It’s Okay to Be Different (Diversity)
Geared towards the younger child, this book creatively showcases a myriad of differences, from missing teeth, to facial features, to skin color, that make us uniquely us. More importantly, the book emphasizes that those differences are okay! We’re not all made to look alike or like the same things. Part of the learning process is in accepting those differences in us and in other.
The Name Jar (Acceptance, Inclusion)
When Unhei moves to the States from Korea, she understandably has some anxiety. Will the other kids like her? Will she fit in? Rather than introduce herself by her Korean name, she tells the students that she’ll have a western name picked out by the following week. So, her classmates help by contributing their suggested names into a name jar for Unhei to pick from. In a turn of events, one classmate comes to visit her neighborhood and overhears Unhei using her real name. He then hides the name jar to encourage Unhei to use her Korean name and share it’s special meaning with the class, which she ultimately does. This book celebrates diversity, multiculturalism, and accepting our own uniqueness.
Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun (Bullying)
Kids can say mean things and it’s hard to be the object of teasing. Lucy is confident and proud of her differences (she likes spaghetti and ketchup in a hot dog bun!), despite Ralph’s comments. The tables are turned when one day, Ralph needs help and Lucy is there to the rescue. It’s a wonderful book to launch pad discussions about modeling kind behavior and staying true to ones values even in the face of opposition.
I hope you love this list as much as my family did!
Your Brainy Chick,