Toddler Zap is skipping along happily when she falls and skins her knee. The pain brings on the tears. Mom Zap picks her up and comforts her with a bandage, a kiss and a back rub. Then, Toddler Zap’s beloved Teddy Bear falls off the shelf. Toddler feels Teddy’s pain and mimics Mom Zap’s actions. Toddler Zap shows she cares for Teddy with a cuddle, a bandage, a kiss and a back rub. She has clearly learned a lesson in kindness.
Children learn by example – especially when they are hurt. Giving tender loving care to young children in pain sets the stage for them to learn about showing kindness to others. When hurt children are gently comforted, their pain subsides and they feel great relief. The experience is very vivid for them. Most children are sensitive to the pain of others, but they don’t exactly know what to do. Over time, as you reliably comfort your child’s hurts, both big and small, they begin to follow your example and provide the same kind of consolation to others.
Take your child's feelings seriously and acknowledge how he is feeling. Never say, "It's not such a big deal" or "Why are you so upset about that?" Be a positive influence when your child is upset by helping to soothe him and turn a bad situation into a more positive one. Help your child understand that many people have similar feelings and discuss the best ways to express them.