As parents, we present the moon and stars to our kids and often expect so much in return. For them to be good at counting, to be storytellers, to be great artists, even to fulfil our unachieved dreams. As a mother, I have similar wishes for my 3-year-old. I was horrible at drawing and painting. But when I see her draw these neat strokes at her age I feel proud and I very vocally express my joy. I have many desires for my child and I’d be absolutely okay even if none of those is achieved. But one thing I don’t want my child to forego is Empathy. She’s an empathetic and kind kid. The best I’ve seen and my heart swells with pride, every time she shows me that side of hers.
Raising an empathetic and kind kid:
I believe in this world filled with darkness, fright, insecurity, and anguish, the world needs more empathy, more kindness, and more love. And my little Myra is the epitome of Empathy. The amount of empathy she holds within her tiny little heart can put adults to shame.
Taking care of her elders
My mom has bad knees and Myra knows this well. She’s her grandma’s biggest support. What I’ve not been able to do as a child for my mother, my little one does. Be it holding her hand and walking to give her support or massaging her feet at night, all of this without being asked. She’s still breastfeeding but a few months ago I was undergoing some medical treatment. Because of this couldn’t nurse her, she’d gently caress my breasts every night before sleeping. She would say, “Take care Gugu, get well soon Gugu. Mama, don’t give me Gugu, I’ll just hold it slowly.” My kind kid was taking care of me and it felt surreal.
The concern and understanding
I can keep quoting such innumerable anecdotes. But this one last week showed me a side of my child, I’d never have imagined for her to possess, leaving me numb with amazement. I had to drop off food to a family member in a Covid hospital. While I left, Myra hugged me at least some 10 times and said, “Mama you please take care. I love you so much. I don’t want anything to happen to you, I love you, please. Corona is bad.” In that tiny moment, I saw empathy in the eyes of my kind kid. But I also saw fear, love, and emotions so strong, they can’t be explained in words. I just hugged her and cried.
Perception about death
I lost my uncle to Covid last month. When I received the call from a relative, I just dropped my phone, with a fallen face, looked at my husband and only said “uncle”. She asked me, “Abba died mama?” saying this she hugged me and added, “take care.” At 3 I don’t think I knew the meaning of the word death or understood what it meant to lose a loved one. But she does, she understands and surprises me every time.
She’s been asking so many questions since the incident, asked me how he died. I told her it was because of Corona. She immediately said in a loud stern voice, “I told Ivan abba so many times to not go out of the house. But he wasn’t listening to me.” She may not have spoken to him. But I’m sure he was smiling from wherever he is right now, as amazed as we are at the concern of his grandniece.
A few more instances:
While we haven’t consciously worked on making her an empathetic and kind kid, sharing a few things here which will guarantee that your child turns empathetic.
- Always acknowledge your child’s feelings. Even if it’s anger, what we adults see as tantrums is the child trying to understand their complex emotions.
- Involve them in community service, let them see you do it.
- Let the child feed strays, it’s the best kind of service any human can do and kids love this.
- Treat your child like a little human, listen to them, let them speak, don’t shut them out. One thing you shouldn’t ever tell your child is, you are too small to understand , go to your room. Try speaking in front of them and be amazed at how much they can guide you.
- Last but not the least, you need to become what you want them to be. If you show empathy towards your child and the people you interact with, your child will do the same.
I truly believe we may not be able to give everything to our children for the lack of time, for the lack of money, or for the lack of resources. But one thing every human can pass on to their child is empathy, children are little sponges with a million tiny spores, they absorb, and they hold it in them. Setting an example at home is the first step towards it, show them kindness, acknowledge their feelings, their anger, their fears, their tears. Thus one day they will embrace you with their empathy and that is the day you will realize what a successful parent you have become by raising a kind kid.
By Michelle Pinto
Winner of Top Mom Bloggers contests conducted by The Champa Tree. She is an influencer at the Instagram page mother_of_dramaqueen. Her article ‘Raising an Empathetic and Kind Kid’, about how her daughter’s empathy could be a lesson to the adults, paved the way to her selection.