With stacks of presents wrapped up under the tree, sparkling window displays on every corner and relentless advertisements on TV, it can be all too easy to get swept away by the commercial side of Christmas. Of course, we love seeing faces light up as little ones unwrap their dream gifts. But it’s important not to forget the true meaning of Christmas. That’s why this festive season we’re offering a few tips on how to give the lifelong gift of compassion.
Let’s start with the basics. All compassion calls for is two simple traits. The first is the ability to empathise with another person’s situation. Basically, the scope to put yourself in another person’s shoes. The second is a genuine desire to improve a negative situation someone else is encountering. Put two and two together and there you have it, compassion.
Here’s a few simple ways to help instill these qualities in your grandkids and family.
Embrace your position as a role model
Kids learn by example and can sometimes be uncannily good at imitating behaviours. This means that as a role model you can play an important part in helping your grandkids recognise and embrace compassion. As you spend time with them keep an eye out for everyday opportunities to help others. From opening a door for a mother with a pram to offering to do the Christmas Day dishes so your daughter in law can put her feet up, even the smallest act of kindness can leave a lifelong impression.
Highlight everyday examples
As well as teaching by example, try to notice other people showing compassion and point it out to your grandkids. This will help them develop an enriched understanding of what compassion is, why it matters and how it can help others.
Reinforce with positive feedback
One of the best ways to heighten the learning experience is to offer positive feedback when you see your grandchildren showing compassion. Really, this can mean anything from moving a snail off the sidewalk so it doesn’t get stepped on to helping their preschool friend carry their books to the classroom.
Look for volunteering opportunities
From local soup kitchens to animal shelters, giving back is a fun and rewarding way to help your grandkids understand the meaning of compassion. Other great ideas include baking treats for fundraising events, setting up a lemonade stand and donating the profits to a meaningful charity, or wrapping up a few token Christmas presents for those in need.
Ultimately, encouraging children to recognise the needs of others will help them look beyond themselves and grow into valuable members of the community. Teaching the importance of compassion from a young age will also help them realise that it is possible to make a difference, and that even the smallest gestures can have a big impact. This is hugely important in a world where making positive changes can often seem daunting and unattainable. Finally, as a grandparent you should never underestimate your role in helping to raise a generation of adults that truly understand and embrace the importance of everyday compassion.