Compassion is a hard concept to grasp. It’s even harder to understand how it can help us in social situations.
Many people think of compassion as a weakness. Very few people understand just how powerful this emotion is.
My book’s cover – as a child with a force field of compassion around them. They are smiling and the bully isn’t able to get through the force field.
The force field means – instead of feeling scared – they feel sorry for the bully. The problem isn’t them. The problem is the bully. This seems counterintuitive – but it works. Exactly as I describe. Most people feel better when they feel sorry for others rather than feeling sorry for themselves.
Compassion in the face of mean people is a social skill kids should learn and it’s up to adults to teach it to them. The challenge is how.
Little conversations. Whenever your child talks to you about a situation or person that is scaring them – acknowledge their fears, then encourage them to humanize the person who scares them. This isn’t about them seeking apologies or trying to play nice with them. This is about helping them understand that the problem isn’t them, it’s the other person. And they don’t have to be mad that the other person is struggling. They just have to accept it as a fact.
Kids don’t like being reminded of this. Heck, adults don’t like to be reminded that people they don’t like are individuals with dignity and worth despite their bad behavior.
But we need to remind them and ourselves of this fact all the time. Because the last thing we want – is for our bullied kid to become a bully themselves.
You can help them by reminding them, repeatedly, to be kind, even to people that are mean. This doesn’t mean becoming a doormat. It is totally possible and doable to stand up for yourself without putting the other person down. But to do that – you first have to learn compassion.