Updated: May 9, 2022
What do you tell your child when he or she shares how another child hurt their feelings or made a poor choice?
I don't know about you, but when my child tells me someone hurt her feelings, my animal brain is on and my auto-pilot steers towards saying things like:
"Well, that child is not a good person."
"How dare he!"
"I will talk to the teacher and make sure she never does that again".
And what did I teach my child here - JUDGMENT & ANGER!
But what if we recognized that this is a wonderful teaching moment for both parent and child? Let's ask ourselves how we can prepare our children so they can handle these situations even better than us when they are adults.
What if we decide to teach compassion & empathy by saying things like:
"Hurt people, hurt people..."
"It sounds like he has a lot of darkness in his heart..."
"How can we bring more light to her heart?"
What a gift that would be for our children!
Tejal Patel said the above well in her Time-In Talks Podcast "Ayu talks about strangers, souls and robbers".
She tells us that we can start this conversation by asking our children questions like…
"Do you think all babies are born good or bad?"
"Do you think they have light or darkness around them when they are born?"
That's right! They are all born "good" and have a beautiful light inside them. But life, experiences, and circumstances can make some children’s heart's have more darkness around them than others.
So when someone hurts another, it’s actually because they are also hurting inside.
Understanding this simple fact helps our children and even, us, adults resist anger and judgment when people are mean and instead find empathy and understanding.
Our job in this world is to try to shed some of our light into others so we can bring more light into this world.
When kids have empathy for others who make poor choices, they get to focus on the light. Not the darkness!
Of course, our children must know that this in no way makes things like bullying OK or acceptable. And if someone hurts them, it is their job to protect themselves and talk to a grown-up immediately.
However, parents have a responsibility to close these loops in a healthy way for our children by planting the seeds for empathy and compassion. Our children can build a strong immunity to shame, judgement, anger, and insecurity that can be inflicted by others, when such moments are dealt with mindfully & consciously.
May you and your family continue your journey to an examined life, full of positive mental and emotional health.
For more parenting tips and guides, subscribe to our newsletter and receive a curation of our favorite reads for kids and printable guides for parents!