Life Lessons: 10 Ways to Teach Kids Compassion

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Image via Flickr/ Beth, I Should Be Folding Laundry

Parenting young children is often about teaching habitshabits that allow them to take care of themselves well throughout their lives and to get along easily in the world: how to eat healthy, how to get dressed and brush their teeth, how to have good manners and take turns. And of course, asking them not to lick things, like the walls in public bathrooms.

That's important, too.

Perhaps one of the most fundamental habits we are building in our home is giving back. I work hard to develop my kids' understanding of the inter-connectivity of the world around us. Seeking compassion and finding ways to help others, whether stepping in for a neighbor who isn't well enough to shovel, or raising money for children’s cancer research, is both modeled and a hands-on part of my children's lives.

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This summer, here are a ten ways you can build this “muscle” in your own family:

  1. Hold a lemonade stand or garage sale and raise money for your favorite charity.
  2. Let your children pick out old toys and books to donate to families at a local women's shelter.
  3. Donate your time packing meals at an organization like Feed My Starving Children.
  4. Join a shave-a-thon with St. Baldrick's.
  5. Walk and fundraise for March of Dimes or Autism Speaks.
  6. Sign up for a church serve-a-thon, providing a meal and conversation with those in need.
  7. Make cards to send to a pediatric hospital ward or to military personnel stationed overseas.
  8. Contact your local senior center about opportunities to visit with residents.
  9. Kids got an allowance? Designate a portion specifically for charitable contributions.
  10. Neighbor having a baby or scheduled for surgery? Make meals to stock their fridge or freezer during recovery.

Learning compassion is just as important as learning to tie one's shoes. With a little practice, this is one habit that will benefit your kids for a lifetime.

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Life Lessons: 10 Ways to Teach Kids Compassion

Tracy Jensen is a writer, marketer, mother, fundraiser, marathoner, and music lover. A working, single mom of two kids ages six and five, she is notorious for doing things the hard way. In addition to writing for EverydayFamily, she survives suburban exile by blogging about life’s foibles at It Builds Character. She can be found at night ignoring the dishes and playing on Twitter. ... More

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