Friday, July 27, 2012

Living Life Special: Teaching Children Compassion

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This post was written as a contribution to the Living Life Special Blog Carnival. The participating bloggers are sharing their experiences in parenting or teaching children with special needs.  Also included are posts on how to educate others about special needs.

a few months ago, i took Pip {16} and Bear {3.5} to dairy queen for ice cream. there was a bit of a line, so we got in the rope queue and waited.  while we were waiting, we saw a darling little girl waiting with her family.  she was about two years old and so cute! she had really short upper arms, but other than that, there was nothing else visibly different. Bear looked at her, smiled, and moved on. but while we were waiting in line, Pip kept looking staring at the little girl. i had to tell her to stop several times. 

once we were away from them, we went through the whole "how would you feel if that was you?" talk. it broke my heart....for the little girl, and for Pip.  that curly-haired little girl was so young and happy. she probably didn't have a clue that she's in anyway "different", let alone that people are staring at her because of it. her little world is still about puppy dogs and fingerpainting.  and Pip? i felt i had failed her for not explaining differences to her more thoroughly.  i just assumed that she saw people of different types at school, so it wasn't an issue with her.

when we got home, i asked Pip to read a post that Kim from Tiaras and Bowties posted about a shopping experience she had with her daughter who has special needs.  you can find the post here.  after she read, Pip was very quiet...very sad.   and then i got a heavy heart as i realized that i was somewhat glad that it had touched her heart that way.  since i feel like a bad mother admitting that, let me explain. 

compassion is defined by Merriam-Webster as a "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it".  this consciousness is how compassion for others is developed; by seeing an experience from their point of view.  i think it's important for us to experience other's possible emotions as thoroughly as possible.  it's only through that heart-felt sorrow that we can understand.

here are some ways that i've been working with Bear on to help him to begin developing compassion early in life.

Completing a task without the use of our arms

Reading without Sight

we write our sponsored child in Rwanda every 2 weeks.  Bear "writes"  him letters and draws pictures to send.  sponsor your own child through Compassion International.

we support the children at The Covering orphanage in Sierra Leone financially and through daily prayer.  You can find their blog here.  the children at The Covering are a topic of daily conversation at our house.  i strive to remind my children that there are other children much less fortunate in our world.  a main point that I make is God calls up to care for orphans.  In you the orphan finds mercy. Hosea 14:3

there are so many ways to develop compassion in children.  i believe it's one of the most-needed traits...especially in a world such as ours is today.  with this compassion, our children will be more willing to interact and accept those with differences.  as i continue to work with Bear on these things, i pray that he will look at others who are different and wonder about how their lives are made special by the challenges and adaptations they have to make.


Be sure to check out the other amazing bloggers who are contributing to the Living Life Special Blog Carnival.

From Boredom to Hyper-Focusing - Leann from Montessori Tidbits shares how special needs includes children who are gifted, as they have their own special set of needs that must be addressed on a daily basis.

Beating the Loneliness of Special Needs - Kim from Tiaras & Bowties explores the loneliness that can accompany children, especially those with special needs as they journey into young adulthood.  Don't miss these quick tips to help your child beat those feelings of exclusion and rejection while boosting self-esteem

Is There a Child with Special Needs in the Classroom? - Former teacher and insightful author, Susan Case offers guidance on how to prepare students for a child with special needs in the classroom. 

One Thing You Should Know - Kim from The Little Stories writes about a mother of a child with autism shares the one that that all of us need to know - the one thing that will show her we understand her child is important and accepted.   

Fine Motor Leads to Fine Art - Debbie Clement is a children's musician/song-writer, illustrator, author, and public speaker.  The also spent 10 years as a Resource teacher for young children with special needs.  Her article for the carnival examines Fine Motor Development and shares supportive observations for children with special needs on that

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