from the Big-Hearted Famlies program of

7 Talking Tips to Help Kids Practice Compassion

Discuss big ideas with your little people.

Studies show that conversation is an undervalued but hugely critical tool parents can use to nurture compassion.

Don’t worry if your first efforts feel forced or awkward. With practice, these conversations will be effortless and immensely rewarding, especially when your children begin to take the lead.

Use these 7 “talking tips” to help develop kindness in your child.

  1. Discipline with logic: When correcting any misbehavior, provide age-appropriate reasoning and explanations.
  2. Teach cause & effect: Talk about the consequences of your child’s actions, especially how his or her behavior impacts others. Find opportunities to have your child “do a 180” and imagine being in someone else's shoes.
  3. Self-reflect: When you do something kind for someone, talk about why you did it.
  4. Observe: Point out instances when someone could use assistance, and talk about your child’s ability to make someone happy.
  5. Talk about Giving: Provide your child with a “giving” vocabulary. Use words like “philanthropy,” “common good,” “compassion,” “generosity” and “volunteering.” Talk about what those concepts mean to you.
  6. Imagine: Ask open-ended, thought-provoking questions to get your child talking about what matters. (e.g., “What would you do if…?”) Avoid judging, and instead use these discussions as an opportunity to share your values.
  7. Be Respectful: And expect respect in return. Be open to your child’s ideas and respect his or her point of view. Insist on the same. Over time, you’ll build an easy give-and-take that will make your children more likely to open up to you.

Still Looking? Browse these simple projects to launch a kind conversation.