It takes practice to learn how to be a good friend who is kind, supportive, trustworthy, and a good listener. These are skills kids can begin to learn at an early age.
On the way home from preschool one day, my five-year-old began to tell me a fascinating story. A boy at school had hit him, he shared. “But you can’t tell the teachers about it, Mom!” Alarmed, I asked him for more details.
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 an eight-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.
Everywhere we look we see ads showcasing the bodies of our cultural ideal—ultrathin women with bright smiles who radiate happiness, and powerful men with just the right amount of muscle who exude self-confidence. Kids are observant, and they pick up on these things. But no one is more influential to children than their parents, which makes it critically important that parents teach children that happiness and self-esteem come from being healthy, not from fitting the advertising industry’s mold.