Point out and offer praise when you see examples of a child showing compassion, calling upon courage, and contributing a special talent. You can also find examples in the news, TV, books, and movies.
What does it feel like to have compassion for others? Faith in themselves? Hope? Love? Joy?
Ideally, with the help of parents and teachers becoming more and more conscious, every child will learn to identify, understand, and accept all the pleasant as well as the uncomfortable feelings more and more, day by day.
We can also point out times to use the gifts. For example, in the classroom, if a child doesn’t understand something or drops his papers and books, that is a time for classmates to feel for that child’s frustration and embarrassment and to use compassion –to be kind by refraining from laughter and to offer help, if possible.
Everyone experiences these feelings at times. We can encourage children to remember a time when they felt that way.
Of course the best way we can teach this is by our own example as parents and teachers by the way we treat the children as well as how they see us treating our spouses, siblings, parents, co-workers, neighbors and strangers.
Let’s all remember that every hurt that we feel, at any age in childhood and adulthood, is an opportunity to grow in compassion for ourselves and others.
Here’s another classroom example. If a spider is spotted in a school locker, we can demonstrate reverence. Consider the wish and blessing about reverence that is offered in The Twelve Gifts of Birth: “May you appreciate the wonder that you are and the miracle of all creation.” The spider is more afraid of us than we are of the spider. We can remind children of that and encourage them to leave the spider alone, or we can gently and carefully move it out of harm’s way. We can do this at home, too, when a harmless bug is found in the bathtub. Instead of crushing it and ending its life, we can carefully move it outdoors. What a “respect for life” lesson that is for children.
Every day we are faced with opportunities to put the gifts to use. It’s a matter of paying attention and making wise and caring choices. Every time we do, we help to make the world a better place!