The news across the country has been full of grief, sadness, and loss. As a national community, we want compassion and respect for all. We have to work together to achieve this goal. As adults, we have to focus on how we teach our children to treat others and view the world. By communicating with our youth, we can build community, caring, compassion and fairness now and in the future. I look to us as parents and educators to lead our children in learning these characteristics.
As adults, we have the responsibility to model caring, compassion and fairness in everything we do in our community and in our reactions to personal events and world events.
We model empathy. Empathy helps us understand others’ emotions, thoughts and experiences – positive and negative. It helps us engage meaningfully with another person and for the benefit of another person. It helps us promote the wellness of another when they are feeling disconnected, uncared for or lost. Empathy gives us the ability to build connection and share compassion with others. We have to extend empathy to our children so they learn what empathy is and how it feels to receive it. We have to extend empathy to others so our children learn how to share in the experiences of others too.
We model respectful and compassionate language and behavior. We carefully consider our language and actions to ensure no prejudice or negative stereotypes are implied in relation to a group or individual. We use respectful and compassionate language about others who are experiencing difficulty or unfairness and we honor their perspectives. We also discuss and show how we can come together as a community to engage instead of pulling ourselves away and disengaging.
We model open discussion. When our children ask questions about situations, rhetoric, or world events, we can answer them with words and information we feel our children are ready for. We have to remember our children’s perspectives and demonstrate respect and caring toward them as we hold discussions. We must also remember the perspectives of those in our community, nation or world when we talk about how we would extend respect and compassion to them.
We model seeing the good in others and the world. While we hear so many negative events and we are grief stricken when tragedies occur—and occur so frequently—we must pause and celebrate the good we hear and see in our children and in others. We must share praise when we see our children extending kindness, empathy, and caring for others or ourselves. We must show our emotions when we are touched by acts of connection and aide in our communities. We must focus on the care and love that we all extend to others daily and that we see given when our communities are hurting and struggling.
We must act to model empathy, respect, and compassion with our children and with our words and behaviors. These actions foster children’s ability to treat others kindly, provide meaningful help, and solve problems throughout their lifetimes. When we help our children know they matter and teach them respect, compassion and caring toward others, our children will share that human connection and build safe and caring communities now and in the future.