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How to teach children to be compassionate and stand up for others

A young student stood up for her bullied classmate in South Carolina, inspiring others to show compassion.

We encourage people to speak up for those who are bullied. And that’s exactly what Cloreta Flynn, a third-grade student in Ft. Mills, did. Instead of watching a classmate being bullied for having the only desk with plexiglass, Cloreta decided that she wanted plexiglass around her desk too. This goes to show that regardless of your age, anyone can stand up against bullying.

As a parent, you are a significant influence in teaching your children compassion. You teach kids to be compassionate by example. As a parent, your children are watching the ways that you not only treat them but also others. When you’re compassionate and kind, then you’re setting the standard. And actively praise your children when they’re compassionate and kind to others. Point out when others are being compassionate because it gives kids different examples of compassionate behavior.

A great way to teach children to be compassionate is by teaching them to read facial expressions. You can see a range of emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear in someone’s face. By reading facial expressions, your child will get nonverbal clues on how to help someone.

Here are a few tips to help your kids learn to speak up for others. Children tend to naturally speak up to mom, dad, or siblings when something isn’t right. Parents should encourage their children to continue to speak up in tactful, assertive ways with others. Children can be lead by emotion. So, teach them what words to use and how to explain what they’re seeing.  For example, they hear someone calls another student a name instead of getting into a name-calling match, which won’t solve the problem. You can teach your child to say something like, “Name-calling isn’t necessary. You can tell us what’s bothering you.”

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