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8 Ways to teach your Child Compassion

With the shootings in America and yet another horrific child abuse case here on our own turf in New Zealand I am wondering as I expect many of you are what is happening in people’s heads to think this is OK.

In my profession I understand how a series of traumatic events in a child’s life can push them to become an abuser or killer in adult life, what I can’t understand however is the governments lack of ‘balls’ to do anything about it.

The death of the Kahui twins has still to this day not bought anybody to justice as the family covered up the deaths, and now just last week a poor innocent baby was beat around the head and face, then the pig of a man attacker shoved a hard solid object in the mouth of the baby cutting up the inside and outside causing him to end up in hospital with extensive injuries, including fractured cheekbones and eyes so swollen he couldn’t open them.

The attack is upsetting enough but what is more shocking is that the Judge (Judge Denise Clark) gave him 6 months home detention.

What sort of message is this sending out? That violence is OK?

These people need incarceration whilst they receive intensive psychiatric treatment and should not be set free until medical staff are confident that they are unlikely to re-offend.

Our loved ones especially our children deserve better and I know that all of you reading this email will feel the same.

A few tips to teach your children love and compassion are:

1. Get a dog or a pet. If you live in rented accommodation or are unable to get a pet find a neighbour who has a dog and offer to take it for walks with your child. Show your child how to love and care for an innocent creature. Study’s show that most serial killers start by torturing animals, so it is vital to teach your child to respect and care for them.

2. Create connections. Help your child to join clubs, sports groups, play with the neighbour’s children anything to teach them from an early age how to mix with others. Humans are naturally tribal people and as children we need to feel that we belong, and we fit in, help your chid to fit in by taking an interest in their friends and encouraging social activities.

3. Discuss emotions. Ask your child how they ‘feel’ about certain situations and NEVER dismiss a child’s feelings. Talk about how to understand and control emotions and when it is ok to cry and feel angry and what actions they should and should not take when their emotions become strong.

Emotional Intelligence (E.Q.) is more important for their future career than I.Q. Good leaders have a higher E.Q. Google have been quoted saying that they look for higher E.Q. in their leaders before they look at I.Q.

Of course, it is always a clever idea to show control in your emotions too as an example. This doesn’t mean ‘Big boys don’t cry”. I am talking about being able to cry to release emotions and controlling anger by walking away and then discussing how they feel with someone they trust afterwards.

4. Don’t talk ‘AT’ a teenager during an emotional hijack this will get you nowhere. An emotional Hijack is when the emotions have taken over and the body is in fight or flight mode. The rational brain switches off at this point and no amount of shouting and screaming will be heard or understood. It is like trying to have a conversation with a 2 year own throwing a tantrum, you are wasting your time.

Allow your teenager to storm off and calm down and then when their rational mind is back on board sit down and discuss their behaviour. Teach them how to control their outbursts by recognising the signs before the blow up and finding other ways to express the hurt or pain.

5. Tell them they are enough. Reassure your child that they are loveable and enough and focus on the actions as needing to be changed. I see many children and adults who have taken on board criticism from parents, teachers, relatives and friends and interpreted it to mean they are worthless. Talk about the behaviour and how they have the ability to control it, either by learning new ways to improve or avoiding stressful situations.

6. Don’t praise your child for participating. By this I mean some schools now give each child a certificate for just turning up, how is that going to work in the real world, no boss is going to give a pay rise for turning up even if it is late. Get real, if your child is last tell them they don’t have to be good at everything but if they want to do better next time discuss what they need to do. Motivate and inspire your kids to do better not to be proud of mediocre.

7. Be a parent and not a friend. Boundaries are crucial for your children to live in the real world. Their boss is not going to be their best buddy and let them get away with everything so nor should you. Children of all ages feel more safe and secure when they have CLEAR boundaries. By clear I mean don’t keep changing the goal posts and if you threaten a punishment stick to it.

8. Unfortunately, one day your child may fall in love with an arsehole, and the more you try and tell them the more they will latch onto them. All you can do in this situation is be there for them, tell them you will always be there for them and let them work it out, unless of course they are in danger in which case you should contact women’s refuse or the police in the case of a son.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any faith in the justice system in NZ from personal experience, so it is up to us to keep our kids safe. Lay down the foundations with love and security and you will have a much higher chance of raising an adult you can be proud of.

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