As parents, we all wonder what we can do better for our children. Sometimes we think that our best isn't good enough. In a Pew Research survey, many American parents believe that they are good parents to their children, but not the best parent they can be. There is always room for improvement as parents because it is, after all, a lifelong job. Our children will still be our children no matter how old they are, and they will stay with us for the rest of our lives. But how can we exactly be better parents to our children?
Teaching Our Kids Compassion
Compassion isn't just a trait. It's a lifestyle. It's not something that we pick up and start doing. We actively choose to do it for the rest of our lives, and teaching our children compassion is central to their development.
There are two kinds of compassion that we should teach our children: the first is compassion for others, and the second is compassion for ourselves. Compassion for others can be taught while your children are at school or even at daycare. It is something that they pick up on they start interacting with other people. Psychologist Erik Erikson believes that compassion is a life-long lesson that should be taught at the very beginning of a child's life and manifested once they have grown up. But what can we do as parents to teach our children compassion?
Compassion for Others
One simple way is to give them pets. Once your children have reached the age of understanding (usually between seven and ten), they can start to learn what it means to take care of another being. Knowing the right time to feed a pet, teaching the pet how to behave, and spending time with the pet is essential in teaching a child compassion. Additionally, introducing your child to other pet lovers can be a learning experience for your child. They can meet new friends, learn new ways to take care of their pets and develop bonds with other people. Interaction with others is the best way we can teach children compassion for others. The next kind of compassion we'll have to teach them is compassion for ourselves.
Compassion for Ourselves
Many people believe that compassion is something that is meant for other people. However, compassion is also something that is intended for us. Self-compassion is a powerful trait to have. It raises self-esteem, lowers depression, and better motivation in living life. But such an attribute is barely learned by many people from all around the world. It's learned less by children.
We can promote self-compassion among our kids to let them live a life of loving themselves. One simple exercise is to teach our children to talk to themselves positively, saying self-affirming words such as "you're good," "you're loving," and "you're capable." These words may not mean anything to them right now, but once they've picked up the exercise, they'll start doing it automatically in the future when they feel distressed. Through this exercise, they will realize how self-compassion has shaped their lives, and then they'll be reminded of you.
Self-compassion is seen rarely among people, but it is one of the essential traits that we should have learned growing up. Don't miss this chance to teach your children to compassionate to themselves because it will surely make a difference once they face the world in the future.
Explaining Why to Your Children
Growing up, we were used to hearing our own parents say, "because I told you so." Our parents back then never thought how destructive such a phrase could be to us. It teaches us of a world that is determined primarily by authority, and as human beings, all we are left to do is obey. However, it isn't their fault. They were following a parenting style they've learned from their own parents. But it's time for us to change that.
Being a compassionate and progressive parent means explaining to our children why. When they ask us why we want them to do something, we explain why and not use the destructive words "because I told you so." This gives them purpose, something that we know will be essential in later stages of their lives. Answering our children's questions is one way they can develop their knowledge about the world. It also brings them a purpose in doing things instead of doing things simply because someone else told them to do it.
One particular situation that's important to explain to children is the process of moving. Moving to another home can be a stressful event for most children. Various processes such as moving pets through shared transportation, moving furniture by trucks, or giving away their precious toys because there is no longer room for them in the new home are all unknown processes to children.
Explaining these processes and why they must happen is essential to your child if you want them to feel better about the move. The purpose of the move must also be clarified. You must be able to tell them the reasons why you're living in a new place, and why they must sacrifice their friends and comfort to move to another area.
As parents, we determine what our children will be like in the future. If we want them to grow up living a compassionate life, we should start now. We should also teach them that they have control over their lives and do great things. Explaining things to them and giving them more knowledge and reasoning why things are the way they are at a young age can help them develop a mind that can empathize with others.