How we can teach kids compassion

Nine-year-old Ava Sendelbach’s little brother Joey and little sister Sophia have been receiving occupational therapy services at Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley region since they were 3 years old. This guest post by their mother, Terri Sendelbach, shows us that her youngest two aren’t the only ones who are learning at Easter Seals –Ava is, too.

Just a boy

by Terri Sendelbach

Ava, Joey and Sophia Sendelbach

I sat down to help Ava with her homework the other day, but before opening her math book, she said that she wanted to tell me something. Here was our conversation:

  • Ava: Mom, there is a picture in my book where somebody—and NOT me—wrote something that wasn’t nice over a picture of a boy. It was mean, so I erased it. Do you want to see it?
  • Me: Yes, I would like to see it.

There was a picture of a young boy sitting at a table. He had a huge smile on his face. It was clear to me that this boy had some sort of physical disability. Above his picture you could make out the erased word c-r-e-e-p-y with an arrow pointing to his face.

  • Ava: I don’t know why someone would write that, he is just a boy.

Just a boy. You see, for Ava, it is commonplace to see a person with a disability. That’s because ever since she was 4 years old, she’s been around people with all types of disabilities. So to her, this boy looked no different than other boys she knows.

I was so proud of her in that moment that I could’ve burst. But I controlled myself, refrained from bursting, and we started her homework.

Ava and all my kids are fortunate to be exposed to all types of people with all types of disabilities at Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region. They know that it takes all kinds of people to make this world go around and around. I’d like to say that my husband Joe and I are responsible for this awareness, but I have to give Easter Seals some (ok, a lot) of recognition.

Since that conversation with Ava I’ve been thinking a lot about compassion and tolerance and how it seems my children have copious amounts of both. Why? Was it something Joe and I did? Is it luck? Can you really teach compassion?

I think the answer to all those questions is yes. My children are compassionate and tolerant people because they were born with those traits and life has only built upon them and made them stronger. You can teach compassion, too, but not in the traditional sense. Our teaching is done by guidance.

Like all parents, Joe and I want our kids to be happy and considerate, compassionate, tolerant individuals. We don’t sit them down and tell them how to be happy or how to be compassionate. We show them by doing. Like when we are at Easter Seals, and a young girl who can’t talk is practicing to walk on the track. She walks right by us, and I tell her, “I just love your shoes!” In that moment, I don’t notice that my kids are there watching me interact with this young girl. They are, though. They are watching me. They watch me talk to her just the same as I would talk to someone who can talk and walk.

Or how about when we were at the grocery store and the cashier is a different color than us, or is wearing cultural clothing, like a burqa or a yamaka, for example. I wouldn’t behave any differently towards that cashier if it were my own aunt checking out our purchases. Well, I probably wouldn’t give them a hug or kiss like I would my aunt, but you get the picture!

Encouraging questions in that instant or in private would be a great learning opportunity for them. I would maybe start off asking, “Did you see that lady’s dress where it covered her whole body and you only saw her eyes? Do you know why she wears that? Here, lets google it and find out!” Once children learn the answer, it empowers them with knowledge. The next time they come across a woman in a burqa, they will know why she wears it and will probably not even think twice about it.

I always tell my children two things when we’re having important conversations:

  1. Always try your hardest.
  1. Just because you are different doesn’t make you better or worse than anyone else.

So that’s how Joe and I teach our children compassion and tolerance. We teach by doing. It is the way that works for our family. And so far so good. My children are compassionate, tolerant people, but they are not perfect. I am sure there have been instances where they could’ve shown someone (or even each other) more compassion. As long as they are trying their hardest at whatever they are doing and know they are no better or worse than anyone else, I am one proud parent who will try her hardest to refrain from bursting.

Related Content and Resources on Easterseals.com


 

Comments may not reflect Easter Seals' policies or positions.


Please read our community guidelines when posting comments.


  1. Sunny Says:

    It’s actually a cool and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you simply
    shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like
    this. Thank you for sharing.

    Have a look at my site – pick up lines for guys cute, Sunny,


  2. house sitting jobs in los angeles Says:

    I’m extremely inspired with your writing talents as neatly
    as with the layout on your weblog. Is that this a
    paid subject or did you customize it yourself?
    Either way keep up the nice high quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like
    this one these days..

    Here is my blog :: house sitting jobs in los angeles


  3. hermes hellenic Says:

    fake hermes leather bags Easter Seals Blog » Blog Archive » How we can teach kids compassion


  4. christian louboutin outlet uk Says:

    Employees and then has been strolled to some backed safe-keeping area in addition to advised for you to lie down on a lawn. When the worker ended up being on the floor, the particular suppose together with the shotgun sealed the particular storage bedroom front door. This thinks after that available the cash from your sign up. [url=http://www.celebrationoffood.co.uk/links.php?key=mens-christian-louboutin]mens christian louboutin[/url]
    When I notice what artfully plated , providore , artisan baker , foodstuff hair dresser , molecular food as well as a carpaccio associated with anything at all, I would like to grab my pistol. louboutin trainers
    This access price will be $30 and also the 1st 200 articles obtain a no cost Pups admission towards the Seven:05 delaware.michael. Cubs online game. Individuals buy any T-shirt along with goody tote. [url=http://www.celebrationoffood.co.uk/links.php?key=christian-louboutin-mens]christian louboutin mens[/url]
    Virtually every day time (yesterday provided) another person produces some sort of pro-UKIP to be able to page to see All Sides is not actually with nodding phrases with truth. christian louboutin sale
    The two teams would likely take part in the major Online game Seven throughout Oklahoma Location Wednesday.


  5. bdlsiyblhw Says:

    Easter Seals Blog » Blog Archive » How we can teach kids compassion
    abdlsiyblhw
    bdlsiyblhw http://www.g69bdjh9ap1xyfd9a6519133iv163k5ws.org/
    [url=http://www.g69bdjh9ap1xyfd9a6519133iv163k5ws.org/]ubdlsiyblhw[/url]


  6. equipaciones de futbol Says:

    equipaciones de futbol…

    Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I’ll send this article to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read. Thanks for s…


  7. WM trikot 2014 Says:

    I’m curious to find out what blog platform you happen to be using? I’m having some small security problems with my latest blog and I would like to find something more safe. Do you have any solutions?|


  8. Celebrate Easter with Easter Seals | Change the World Says:

    [...] I especially enjoyed a post on the Easter Seals’ blog about teaching children compassion, if you are so inclined to read it. Share this:Like this:Like [...]


  9. Marcia Lichtenberger Says:

    The above children are my grandchildren . I can attest to the fact that Ava, Joey and Sophia are compassionate and kind in their interactions with all people around them. I am proud that my daughter Terri and my son-in-law Joe, are doing an exceptional job raising their children.


Leave a Reply