Teaching Compassion and Thankfulness... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 12-10-2001, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Okay, somehow I forgot to teach these lessons.

How do you do it?

I woke up w/ a splitting headache. My children don't seem to be capable of giving me any slack. I got them dressed, made breakfast, and am trying to sit here til the ibuprophen kicks in.
"I want my vitamin. I need a drink. Cut my sandwich."

"I have a really bad headache. Please just eat your sandwich right now and I will get you your vitamin in a few minutes when I feel better."

"No! NOW!"

Now, I know I *could* just haul my ass into the kitchen and get them what they want, but it's like I don't count fer sh*t sometimes. How do I make them understand that I need their compassion?

Am I asking too much of them? I don't think so....

(They will be 4 in Jan.)
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#2 of 5 Old 12-10-2001, 10:43 AM
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I only have one child (turned 5 this past summer). He was like that for a while - always demanding that I do things for him, whether I felt good or not. What worked for me was telling him I would get something for him in a few minutes when I felt better (never had to specify the number of minutes, but I know some kids do better with that). Then, I would try to follow through with his request as I promised. When I'm sick, he's usually very caring and compassionate and will let me rest. He'll even come over and hug me and ask if I'm feeling better.

At around age 4, I also found that he started just about every sentence with "I want...". That really annoyed me, but I realized that I had been getting him what he wanted when he demanded, so I actually created that problem. I began to model how I wanted him to ask for something. "Mommy, may I have...." or "Mommy, will you...". He still hits me with the "I want" often, but all I do is say "Mommy..." and he asks nicely. I haven't been as consistent as I'd like to be, so it's taking a while, but it is working slowly. I've always modeled Please and Thank You, so he uses those a lot. We're not perfect (actually don't want to be) but he's getting progressively better with his manners. Age 4 was not easy for us, but we made it. Age 5 has been much easier.

I found that my son is like a sponge and will absorb everything I do and say, so I have to watch myself more than I have to watch him. Modeling the behavior I want seems to really help.

I hope this helps.

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#3 of 5 Old 12-10-2001, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes, your post helps very much! Thank you.
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#4 of 5 Old 12-10-2001, 10:59 PM
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I don't have any advice but to let you know that mine are not compassionate either! I think they are just too young to "get it."

I teach 3rd graders (9yrs old) and they don't get it either when I feel bad....I hope it doesn't ours that long!
Chin up
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#5 of 5 Old 12-11-2001, 01:11 AM
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I do believe that children can be compassionate (although sometimes it's harder with Mommy, lucky us! ). But I firmly believe that we can't just expect this to come about on its own. We probably, as attached parents, teach our kids a lot about compassion by being compassionate to them, but I think there is some other stuff that needs to be happening too. My almost 3 year old dd is pretty compassionate for her age, and I think some of the things I may have done to contribute to this in addition to my AP style are:

- Somewhere between ages 1 and 2, I realized that I didn't have to jump to meet every request anymore. It was hard to get out of that mindset of always meeting her needs immediately when she was an infant, but I realized I would be doing her a disservice if I, for example, abandoned my meal every time she wanted something from upstairs. I figured some of her needs were really "wants" and it would be good for her to learn to respect others' needs, too.

- I've always talked about feelings with her - verbalizing for her when she can't, as in, "Oh, that must be frustrating, you can't get that puzzle piece to fit!" Or just pointing out how people she sees might be feeling. I noticed this was working when, by age 2.5, she started naming the feelings of characters in picture books based on their facial expressions.

- I've always accepted her negative feelings and I try so hard not to give her that awful message that so many of us probably got as kids - that sadness, anger, etc. are unacceptable and should be covered up or talked away with platitudes. I'm currently having a hard time with dh on this one, because he's sort of from that school.

Believe me, it's really nice to see that the things I've been doing are working, because I always do things with a thought in my head (sounds like my mother-in-law's voice a lot, I wonder why? ) that goes, "Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
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