By Margi Roumain, Assistant Director, Royal Palm Christian Preschool
Kindness, compassion, and empathy are words we hear frequently, and yet we sometimes forget that the most impactful way to impart these values are by example; not just preaching, but modeling. These concepts should be at the forefront of conversations as parents, educators, citizens, and just simply as humans. Raising our little ones to develop a large capacity for values is undoubtedly a huge step in ensuring a better future for the generations to come. It’s incredibly important, more than ever, to show our children ways they can actively practice compassion, how they can choose to not just be observers, but to take steps to connect with someone. Think about the children in school; some may be quiet or withdrawn, others have regular negative outbursts, others shows signs of physical neglect, some seem to be always sick. There are also those that will do anything for attention because they may be hurting and need to be seen. All of these are quite common scenarios. We have to begin when they are little and full of wonder, and show them the rush they can feel when they’ve helped someone in whatever way they need. Show them how they should take initiative that could potentially affect someone in a life-changing way, by simply showing them care.Send them out into their day with intentions such as:
• Make someone smile today.
• Talk to someone you don’t normally talk to.
• Invite a child that is by themselves to play with you or join a game.
• If you see someone sad, sit by them … maybe they will talk or just sit.
• Be the light in the room, and lead by being kind.
Encourage children to feel supported for expressing the ways they are unique, that we are all different, we come into this world deserving of respect, and of the opportunity to learn from one another.
Let them know:
• That they are a gift to the world, and their gift to the world is to care for it.
• That we all deserve kindness and love.
We adults need to help our children understand that when they make the “right choice” that’s their reward. We can thank them and praise them but, ultimately, their reward is that they “chose” the correct path and are well on their way to developing their “moral compass.” That pride should be with them throughout their life. We need to guide them to find their inner hero and courage to be the trail blazers. Never underestimate the power of a young child. Every night ask your children, “How did you help someone today?”
What if the young child that is isolated in a classroom didn’t become the child to avoid, but the child to embrace? What if we understood how much power we have to be a hero for someone, just by showing them that they are seen and heard? Wouldn’t school be a much more positive social environment? Wouldn’t the world?