Compassion, Honesty and Gratitude For Kids

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“Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar.”

 – Bradley Miller

Inside the ivy-covered walls of the Yale Infant Cognition Center, researchers are discovering some heartening news.  During a series of tests, babies, some as young as three months, were profoundly more interested in animated characters who were attempting to help, not the ones blocking progress.

“This capacity may serve as the foundation for moral thought and action,” the authors wrote in an article in the scientific journal Nature.  It “…may form an essential basis for…more abstract concepts of right and wrong.”

In a nutshell, babies might be hard-wired to make sound ethical judgments. That means our job as parents, teachers and loving community members is to reinforce this positive predisposition, and model the very values we wish kids to emulate.

A strong foundation for a good and loving life includes teaching compassion, honesty and gratitude.

The very young can more easily understand the importance of compassion when they themselves are tenderly touched and nurtured.  Being cleaned, fed, rocked, hugged, cuddled and kissed reassures and sooths babies like nothing else can. Such compassionate touch becomes what they know, what they seek, and how they will also interact as they mature.

Being affectionate with children teaches them how great it feels to both receive and give positive, loving, compassionate attention.

Honesty is a tricky one.  Research suggests the best parents aren’t necessarily 100% honest all of the time – that occasionally fudging the truth with your children can be more compassionate, validating and constructive. 

What’s important is to help them form their own character by showing them the key components  of honesty in your own life.  Take responsibility for your actions, admit when you’ve made a wrong decision, and talk about ways to fix a situation that’s less than ideal.  Honesty without compassion is thinly veiled cruelty – teach your children that, and you’ve given them an important tool that will benefit them the rest of their lives. Who your children see you be beyond generalities is the single most important learning experience you can give them.

The value of gratitude goes hand-in-hand with happiness. Scientific research shows that just feeling thankful makes us happier, and expressing our gratitude to the person to whom we feel thankful causes a huge surge in our joy level. 

When a child exhibits a desired behavior, by all means, thank them.  They’ll feel validated, and will most likely repeat that positive conduct that inspired the praise.  Besides just feeling happy, you’ll be showing them by your example that appreciating someone’s actions, and telling them know, makes everyone involved happier.  You’re setting in motion a habit that gives them the foundation for a lifetime of happiness

Learn more about the values and virtues that enrich your spirit while you’re also learning how to cleanse your body and quiet your mind at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego and Austin, Texas.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.

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