Perhaps our number one goal as parents should be teaching our children how to have a compassionate and empathetic spirit. There is no greater principle that a person can develop in this life. It will serve your child well in every single aspect of their development. But sometimes teaching kindness and respect to your five year old may feel like scaling Everest: possible, but daunting. But fear not. Even the most challenging child can learn compassion, empathy, and respect!
Follow Christ’s Example
The fundamental message of the Bible is one of compassion. How the love of Jesus Christ reaches down into our mess and pulls us into His embrace. Children who grow up with a profound sense of empathy and compassion will almost assuredly be successful in every aspect of life. When you focus on the teachings of Jesus in your household, your children will learn to:
- Have a servant’s heart.
- Treat others with kindness, deference, and respect.
- To be humble.
- Look for ways to better the world around them with their gifts and talents.
A child who embodies compassion and empathy from a young age will become the adult who serves and loves the marginalized. They will become an adult who is not afraid to (literally) get their hands dirty to demonstrate the kindness of Jesus.
Treat Your Children With Kindness and Respect
Children learn what they live, and even the youngest child should be treated as a valuable member of the family unit. Speak to your children with kindness and respect, even when you’re angry, and you will see that behavior reflected back toward you. Choose your words and tone of voice carefully, especially during teachable moments of correction. Treat your children the way you’d like to be treated, and they will naturally become respectful human beings.
Say “I’m Sorry”
No parent is perfect. We all make mistakes. By being willing to own up to our mistakes and ask our children for forgiveness, we teach humility in the most hands-on way possible. Tell your children you’re sorry when you’re wrong. What a profound way to teach them compassion for their parents’ own humanity.
Teach Emotional Intelligence
From the moment your child can communicate with you, begin teaching them a vocabulary for the emotions they feel every day. Help your children identify how they are feeling, why they are feeling that way, and how to express that feeling in a healthy manner. When children can identify their own feelings, they are more apt to identify and empathize with the feelings of others.
Be Kind and Respectful
Our children are watching our words and actions every minute of every day. When we speak harshly with biting words to our spouse, our family members, or even the waiter at the restaurant, our children are absorbing every word. Work to intentionally embody kindness and respect toward every person you encounter day to day. Your children will notice, and behave in kind.
Want to learn more about navigating the unique season of kindergarten with your child? Start here.