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


Meeha Meeha said...

I think that when you explain clear and simple, children are very open and learn easily about compassion. Their hearts are capable of so much goodness. I've just read Kimberly's post and I was touched - she wrote from the heart, so beautiful!

Unknown said...

I'm so glad that Pip was touched to some degree from our shopping trip experience- I always say if I can touch or change just one person I feel blessed! Thanks for the blessing you bring into my life! Your children are beautifully sweet and empathetic... your honesty speaks a million words! Love, hugs, and Blessings to you!

lyndsay @ ourfeministplayschool said...

I agree with Meeha. Kiddos are so open to difference, compassion and empathy. I love that Pip is diving into the blogsphere with you. Love, love, love that. Love this.

Maruki said...

When I was younger, my grandmother sponsored a child in Africa. I thought she was crazy because she wasn't 100% sure all the money went to the child. Eight years of sponsorship and she finally was able to travel there and meet the child. Her contributions were actually given to the boy. The bike she paid for was there as well as all the books and games. I was raised to help my community and I did, but I learned the biggest lesson that summer. Trust in others even if you are unsure of the results. I have since helped children around the world and I will instill that into my children

Unknown said...

Hello Andie. Thanks for putting this blog carnival together and including me in it! I love your ideas for teaching compassion so much that I think I'll have my kids do them too!

Unknown said...

Thank you for teaching your kids to be accepting and compassionate. I love that you didn't just stop at "don't stare" but you took the lesson further at home. You are a blessing to many, Andie. Thank you for starting this carnival.

The Iowa Farmer's Wife said...

You are doing such a great job at teaching your children compassion, diversity and acceptance. You have so much to share and like I've said before you're an AWESOME mom!

Angela said...

Thank you for this inspiring post and the great tips!

Unknown said... have truly inspired me to go beyond just the explanations....i need to think more like this and i love what you are doing to teach your little guys about compassion. I also can't wait to explore the other links....just a fabulous post...thanks so much for sharing...and being you x

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