It’s tricky teaching kids compassion. Children can be quite self absorbed, as too can many adults. They also find big concepts such as poverty, war, famine and death difficult to grasp, particularly when they are young. More so, when they live a middle class existence.
At ages 3, 5 and 7 I still shield them from confronting scenes. They are lucky to live with such privilege. There are many children who are not.
To teach them compassion, I’m starting small. First, I am trying to lead by example through volunteering and giving when and where I can. I explain to them why this is important to me. Then I teach them to be kind to themselves and to each other. Kindness is a word we use a lot at home. At times I feel like I am speaking to myself, but hopefully one day it will sink in. As they grow older they will learn more about Australia and the world and the struggles facing many people. We will talk more about the importance of giving, both our time and money, when we can to help those who need it most.
For organisations like UNICEF ( the United Nations Children’s Fund) to continue doing the work they do, they need us to raise compassionate children. If we live in a bubble, instead choosing to only seek out positive stories, rather than shining a light on the confronting reality facing so many, then we will trick ourself into thinking our own day-to-day struggles are what matters most. Ignorance, turning a blind eye and wrapping yourself in a bubble of positivity is lovely, yet complacent. If something makes you sad, angry or uncomfortable it’s a sign you need to investigate ways to help push for meaningful change.
Sometimes circumstances are so dire or so beyond our control we feel like there’s no way we can make a difference, but we can always do something. This might be simply through talking about it and raising the issue in a public forum or it can be through giving money. When it comes to world issues, like the Syrian crises, money donated to UNICEF and other aid organisations can do amazing things. We need to keep giving to others who need our help – that’s what it means to be a good, compassionate global citizen. I will continue doing and giving when I can and when I do not have extra to give, I will continue to teach my children the virtues of compassion so when they grow older, they will give what they can.
We all share this earth, we must be aware of how lucky we are and not shut our hearts to others.
Syria is in the middle of an extremely violent civil war. Fighting between government forces and rebels has killed more than 100,000 and created 2 million refugees, half of them children. They need our help. To find out more about what’s going on check out this Washington Post article here. UNICEF is helping in many ways such as health, immunisation, child protection, water, sanitation and education.
UNICEF’s vision is of a world where the basic rights of every child will be met. UNICEF works in over 190 countries to promote and protect the rights of children. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, clean water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and HIV.