This morning as I dropped the children off to school, one of my son’s first-grade classmates, Lisa (not her real name) was very sad and crying. She seemed to have had some separation anxiety issues this morning. Just as a side note, I have noticed that the kids don’t cry on the first day of school; it’s usually the second or third days that bring on the waterworks! Someone explained to me that by the third day, the reality has set in that this is not just a one-day stay…I’ve got to go to school EVERY day! But I digress…Lisa was quite upset and the teacher stepped in to bring comfort. Izzy gave me a quick hug goodbye and informed me that he needed to say goodbye quickly so that he could stay and help Lisa feel better. In his usual way, Izzy proceeded to put his arm on Lisa’s shoulder and offer her words of encouragement. Now, many children exhibit this type of innate compassion, but I have always marveled at how GOOD Izzy is at doing so.
I recently read an interesting article about raising compassionate children which had this to say regarding the value of compassion,
Developing compassion starts with the recognition that we are not isolated creatures, but rather individuals who are a part of many groups-communities, races, religions, nationalities, and citizens of planet Earth-that must coexist to survive. This realization leads to an awareness of others; who they are, the culture in which they live, what they believe, how they live their lives, and the challenges that they face. Compassion provides us with a context in which we realize that people are more alike than they are different. We all want to be healthy and happy, safe and secure, and feel connected; we work, we play, we raise families. Compassion enables us to feel empathy for others and to put others’ needs ahead of our own when necessary. (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/200912/parenting-raise-compassionate-children)
Although some aspects of compassion are inherent, it is interesting to see it develop in children. It is important for parents to exhibit compassionate behavior in front of their children, because as with other behaviors, children learn what they live. I am thankful that having two children allows us to easily teach compassion right at home, by having our children first learn to respect and have compassion for each other. Yes, they argue and fuss, but when one is hurt, the other is quick to jump to the other’s side. It’s a beautiful sight to see my children want to comfort each other, but it’s even better to see them exhibit the same behavior to a friend, a new classmate, or even a stranger. I believe that lack of prejudice against others, and the absences of preconceived notions about people allow children to easily show compassion to others. Hmm…yet another opportunity for adults to learn a lesson from our children!