“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive” – Dalai Lama
There is so much of violence, hatred, anger, power struggle and religious disharmony in the world today. How do we, as educators and parents raise children to live in such a world? Our natural instinct is to protect children from the harsh realities of all the chaos. But, deep down, we know we cannot always be there and shelter them forever. We must equip them to survive in a global world, but at the same time enable them to have the courage to make a difference to anything they feel strongly about. One most important quality is to develop and nurture a strong sense of compassion in them. Regarded and advocated as one of the greatest human virtues by all major world religions, compassion is an emotional feeling that triggers an empathetic response to another’s suffering, hurt or injustice.
A child learns about love and compassion from a very young age. Children who are raised in an environment that promotes kindness, empathy and compassion develop into individuals who also practise these qualities. They are able to care for, understand and connect with all life forms. Compassion causes us to show kindness even if others behave undesirably.
Children spend their vital years either at home or in schools. As such, these two are the most important places for them to learn compassion. How can we develop this in our children?
Be a role model
Compassion cannot be learned by just talking about it. When children see adults being compassionate, they learn from this. When they see adults showing empathy towards the suffering of other people or animals, they learn to care. When they see parents and teachers ‘giving’ without the need to gain anything in return, they understand compassion. Very importantly, when children see the way adults interact with and treat others around them, they learn respect. This could be how we deal with bureaucracy, treat our family members and workers, how we show respect to other road users or caring for stray animals.
Children are always learning, and it is amazing to know that we have such a big influence on them and the qualities they learn.
Provide opportunities to practise compassion in daily life
Children must be given opportunities to practise compassion in their daily lives. Difficult situations with siblings, classmates, and friends present opportunities for children to put themselves in another’s shoes – to practise empathy. Being involved in charitable causes organised by NGOs, clubs or church groups provide excellent opportunities for children to learn skills and practise compassion. Encouraging and helping children to perform random acts of kindness promotes the feeling of happiness and this further inspires them to do more.
Help children understand and cope with anger
Anger causes an individual to lose focus and leads to undesirable consequences. Destructive anger is also one of the main hindrances to being compassionate. We must help children to understand and manage anger. When they are able to comprehend both the positive and negative sides of anger, and how holding onto anger leads to destructive behaviour or actions, children will be able to self-regulate and in turn show compassion. We must praise them when they successfully cope with anger and behave calmly and patiently. This will encourage more positive outcomes in future.
Once we help our children begin this process, we must make sure they get lots of practise and opportunities to use their energy and compassion to make their mark on the world.
At AMETIS, being compassionate is a core value held by every individual. Children and adults are provided with various opportunities and platforms to show and practise this noble virtue. These could be in the form of reaching out to others and the less fortunate, caring for animals, posting thank you notes on the ‘gratitude board’ and valuing each person’s contribution to the school community.
Enrolment is now open for primary and secondary classes. Please call 05 290 5888 or 019 388 3349 for enquiries, or visit us at www.ametis.edu.my.