Compassion means we care about others, treat them with kindness and feel a strong desire to help people in need. Compassion is empathy in action. For a two-year-old, compassion might look like giving a hug to a friend or family member who feels sad. Noticing someone else's distress and wanting to respond is the foundation of compassion.
Character How to Raise Your Two-Year-Old to Treat Others With Compassion
Encourage compassion and kindness in your child:
Talk Through Discomfort
Children are sometimes wary when they encounter people who look, sound or behave differently than those in their immediate circle. And young kids sometimes ask questions or make statements that parents find awkward or embarrassing, such as "Why is she in a wheelchair?" "How come he talks like that?" or "That's a funny-looking outfit!"
"Don't come down hard on your kid" for sharing these reactions, says Harvard psychologist Richard Weissbourd. Instead, listen empathetically and talk through their questions. Ultimately, he adds, "the best way to assuage children's fears is to engage [those we meet] in a very normal way." In other words, children take their cues from adult reactions.
In the "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" episode "Daniel's New Friend," Daniel has lots of questions when he meets Chrissie, who uses braces to help her walk. The episode's "strategy song" provides simple language parents can use to help children: "In some ways we are different; in so many ways, we are the same."
Encourage Their Kind Impulses
Use descriptive praise when you see your child reaching out to someone else with compassion. This reinforces their impulse to act with compassion. This might sound like:
- "I was sad and you gave me a hug. That hug helped me feel better. Thank you for being so kind."
- "You shared your toy trucks at the playground. That was kind and made your friend feel happy inside."
Build Good Character Skills with Daniel Tiger
Through imagination, creativity and music, Daniel and his friends learn the key skills necessary for school and for life, using strategies grounded in the teachings of Mister Rogers.Find Activities
Activity Finder: Learn With Your Two-Year-Old
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Sodor I Spy
Playing a game of Thomas themed I Spy can help your child pass the time while waiting in line or on a long car ride. Be sure to provide plenty of encouragement as your child continues guessing.
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Wild Kratts Baby Buddies
Baby animals need a lot of attention and care. With this app, kids are in charge of feeding, washing, protecting, and playing with each one. The Wild Kratts team will be there with facts and tips to help children learn about the baby animals amazing creature powers along the way.
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Elmo's Special Cupcakes
Elmo is sad that his mommy has to go to work. Your child can follow along with this interactive story as Elmo and his babysitter play fun games while mommy is at work.