How do you teach a child compassion? I have read a few articles and books about the topic.
One article, which stands out, was written by Jim Taylor Ph.D., in Psychology Today.
Dr. Taylor suggests five ways to instill compassion in your children.
He encourages parents to live a compassionate life, surround yourself with compassionate people, talk to your children about compassion, explore compassion and engage your children in compassionate activities.
Who wouldn’t want a compassionate child? Compassionate children are kind, loving, gentle, considerate, generous and sympathetic.
Yes, who wouldn’t want a child, full of compassion?
Dr. Taylor, I’d like to add a sixth to your list.
Any parent can do this. Welcome a special-needs child into your home, by birth or friendship.
I was blessed to give birth to Kelsey, a special needs’ child, who is spilling over with compassion.
Yes, Kelsey is brimful of compassion. And she was born with this great attribute.
Until you have a child with special needs, it is hard to imagine, how natural, this compassion trait is for them.
Kelsey has had her share of trials and adversity. On a daily basis, she is confronted by cerebral palsy. She also lives on a different intellectual plane than most, which we adore.
She has had 50-plus surgeries, lived through 41 years of “diversity,” and some months she is short on friends.
But she loves everyone and worries about everyone.
If you haven’t met her, you need to. If you are facing any medical issues, she will surely concern herself about you and pray for you. This is guaranteed.
And she will ask, over and over again, how you are doing, weeks after meeting you.
My I share a recent example? Kelsey’s brother Jeremy hurt his knee after work, a recurring college football injury. When Jeremy returned to his home, after the injury, Kelsey was visiting.
The look on Kelsey’s face was somber. You would have thought she injured her own knee.
As Kelsey was leaving Jeremy’s house, she could not stop worrying about him, almost obsessing, and asking multiple questions.
No doubt Kelsey knows injuries, doctors, hospitals and surgery. She wants no one to hurt that way, friends or family. We have even barred the “s” word – surgery – from our home.
The entire drive from Jeremy’s house to our house, I listened to her concern.
“Mom, shouldn’t they velivate (elevate) it?”
“Can I give him my brace?”
“Can we take him to the hospital; I don’t want him to be alone?”
“I have some ibuprofen; can we give him some?”
“He can use my wheelchair.”
This went on and on, for 28 minutes and didn’t stop, even as she climbed the stairs into our home.
“I think he needs a blanket to stay warm. It will help him, feel better.”
“Can we fix him dinner?”
By bedtime, she had to have shared 50 ideas of how to help her brother.
The next morning, she wanted to make him a card.
And this “consideration” is not unique to family members.
Kelsey will come home from DPI, her day program, and mention that a young man, “Rick”, was in the hospital and needs a card. The next day it was “Carie” hurt her foot, and we should loan her the crutches and go visit her.
One day I mentioned about a friend, facing cancer, and Kelsey said we needed to take cookies to her home. This is someone she has never met.
This is no exaggeration. She has such empathy, a unique understanding and an endless desire to serve.
If you don’t have a Kelsey, you may enjoy the secondary sweet side of those overflowing with compassion, like her, and invite them to your home.
You will feel the love, and they will too. Have a great week!
Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.