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 six-year-old, compassion might look like giving a hug, making a card, or saying something kind to help a friend or family member who is feeling sad or upset. It can also look like reaching out to a peer who has been left out – or hearing about a community need and wanting to do something to help others, even if they do not know them.
Character Empathy in Action: How to Raise Your Six-Year-Old to Treat Others With Compassion
Raising a compassionate and caring child:
Talk Through Discomfort
Children are sometime 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."
A Folktale Play
Listenting to and learning about folktales can help children better understand cultures from around the world. Together with your child, choose a folktale and perform it as a play.Do This Activity
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:
- "Thank you for giving me a hug when I was feeling frustrated yesterday. That was just what I needed to help me feel better."
- "That was a thoughtful note that you wrote to your friend. I know she's sad about moving away, and your note will remind her of how much you care about her."
Use Empathy to Guide Giving
Before performing a kind deed for someone in need, ask kids to think about what they know about that person — their needs, interests, likes and dislikes — and then write a note, make a gift or perform a small act of kindness that matches them.
George loves to give presents. Your child can help George pick and wrap a present for one of his friends.Play This Game
Build Good Character Skills with Arthur
Whether facing down a bully, worrying about a new teacher or being the very last person on earth to lose his baby teeth, Arthur and his friends manage to solve their crises with imagination, kindness and a lot of humor.Find Activities
Activity Finder: Learn With Your Six-Year-Old
ActivitiesView All Activities
The Peg + Cat Floppy Hop Flipbook
Your child can practice number recognition and ordering skills while putting together a 24 page flip book that will show Cat doing a floppy hop dance.
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PBS Parents Play & Learn
Designed specifically with parents in mind, this app provides more than a dozen math and literacy games that parents can play with their kids. Each game builds on the natural curiosity of children and is themed around a familiar location like the garden or grocery store.
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.
GamesView All Games
Daniel Tiger and his friends are celebrating Neighbor Day! In this game, your child can ride along on Trolley and help each neighbor complete tasks such as gathering flowers, blowing up balloons, and cleaning picnic tables.