Compassion means we care about others, treat them with kindness, and feel a strong desire to help people in need. Compassion is empathy in action. For a six-year-old, compassion might look like giving a hug, making a card, or saying something kind to help a friend or family member who is feeling sad or upset. It can also look like reaching out to a peer who has been left out – or hearing about a community need and wanting to do something to help others, even if they do not know them.

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My 4-year-old had been excited about her cousin’s birthday party for weeks. We guessed the flavor of the birthday cake and worked together to wrap the present. Yet, as we walked up to the party, something shifted: my excited girl was now clutching my pant leg, unwilling to introduce herself to the young party-goers. She even shoved aside a slice of cake. The tears and less-than-pleasant behavior soon followed.

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Responsibility means being dependable, making good choices, and taking accountability for your actions. A responsible citizen looks out for the well being of others and understands we all have a part to play in making the world a better place. For a five-year-old, responsibility might look like getting themselves ready for school in the morning, helping with specific household chores, or helping care for a pet – in other words, age-appropriate tasks that contribute to the well-being of their family.

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