Compassion - “The feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. It is being kind and forgiving because another person really matters to you. It is caring deeply even if all you can do is listen and say kind words.”
Compassion is a virtue, so too is respect, responsibility, trust, honour, loyalty and the list goes on and on. I believe that we need to parent with all the virtues in mind. We, as parents have great power to influence our children in many ways – in the way they act, in the way they treat others, in the way they think about others, but the most important influence we have on our children is we form the way they think about themselves by the way we speak to them and the way we speak about them.
If we refer to our children as ‘mean’, ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’ that’s exactly what they are going to believe they are. On the other hand we don’t want to fill our children’s heads with words like ‘the greatest’, ‘fantastic’, ‘perfect’ – if we praise our children for every little thing they do they soon become expectant and look for some sort of recognition every time they do something, regardless of how trivial the act is. Using words like ‘kind’, ‘trustworthiness’, ‘friendly’, ‘modest’, ‘patience’ (and again the list goes on) in our conversations we provide children with a boost of self-esteem whilst also acknowledging their natural potential to develop their own set of virtues that will shape their thinking in years to come.
If we raise our children with compassion and understanding we present them with opportunities to explore, grow, take risks, develop patience and understanding and hopefully in the end they become happy and resilient children. We need to mentor our children, not torment them. Children are going to make bad choices and do stupid things; didn’t we when we were discovering the world? By using compassion as a form of discipline you avoid the horrid world of guilt, tears and power struggles, but rather, you acknowledge the situation for what it is and you can move on using both compassion and educative consequences.
Ways to use compassion with discipline: