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Compassion for All: 5 Powerful Ways to Teach Your Child to Care and Transform the World

Just the other day, I read a news report about a son who pushed his mother down the stairs simply because he was fed up with taking care of her. She fell sick too often and he was fed up with being the caregiver. I wondered, ''What kind of an environment are we creating for our children? Our actions leave an impact and how can we help create the right impact?How do we teach human values?''


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As a parent, the one thing that worries me among many is how to nurture compassion for all in a growing child.  Forget about teaching compassion to a child - how do we start practicing it? For most people, these are lessons learned at home. I grew up seeing my father show compassion to all those who reach out to seek his help. Jokingly I once asked my Dad, ''What if a Pakistani soldier is dying and seeks your help, what would you do?'' He didn't have the slightest hesitation in saying, ''I'd do my very best to save his life. When I took oath as a doctor, I vowed to save human life, my job is not to differentiate between the life of a Pakistani and an Indian, but to save a life.'' 

[DO read: A Dad's Advice to the Daughter He loves]

Brene Brown's book ''Daring Greatly'' defines compassion in a wholehearted, holistic way that appeals to me. She quotes Pema Chodron:

''Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It is a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.'

So, how do we teach compassion as a human value to our children? We don't always need to point to Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Nowadays, kids prefer Steve Jobs to any other icon - let's face the reality of the tech-savvy generation that we are dealing with.

1. We can show our children the value of compassion by BEING and LIVING it. 

2. Teach how Nature is full of compassion - the trees that continue to give us fruit even when we human beings don't hesitate to cut them down for whatever reasons. 

3. Show paintings and art around us that embrace compassion in the most realistic way. It can be anything and everything that you see around you through an artistic medium. Every city has art galleries, paintings that depict real-life - use this as a good time to bond and have a good conversation with your child.

4. Read out from books that embrace compassion in its narrative - you can find several instances if you are a voracious reader. Not sure how to get started? Read books written by RK Narayan, Ruskin Bond and Sudha Murty.

5. Stories about our family members that inculcate the feeling of compassion - you can share true stories about grandparents, parents and family members that can be shining examples of how compassion can be practiced daily.

One of my favourite stories is this: This Investment Banker from London left his high flying career to lead a simple life in Puttaparthi.

In case you have such stories of compassion to share, do write in the comments section of this blog post and share it with other readers too. 

The more we can inspire others, the better world we create for ourselves and our children. Do share your stories with me too. 

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