I learned a lesson about 13 years ago from my then 6 year old son. I was taking the year off from the classroom to be the ‘at home’ parent while my husband got his masters in teaching. I was walking with him to school one morning and we passed under a power line. I commented about how silly it was that there were shoes dangling way up there. My son just looked at me shocked and said “Mommy, that’s not silly, that’s sad, someone threw someone’s shoes up there and now they don’t have their shoes”. He saw those shoes and cared about the person they belonged to. He looked deeper than I had, and from that moment on I could never look at shoes dangling from a power line the same way. Those shoes always represented someone who was probably being bullied and now, because of my amazing 6 year old’s heart, I saw it too. Once you look at something deeper you can never see it the same way again.
Those lessons about caring start very early. They start from the moment a baby cries and we comfort it and they continue on until we take our last breath. It is your job as a parent to monopolize on those teachable moments… To model caring… To talk about things and people in the world with compassion and to bring your child up to care about and think about others. We do this by constantly talking to our children about how we feel, how they feel and how what we do makes others feel. We do this by looking at things deeply and talking to our children about them.
I had this amazing moment with a very challenging student just the other day. He was constantly doing the wrong thing, talking when I was talking, not doing work he was capable of doing, pouting, sulking, bothering others … You get the picture. I really had tried everything in my bag of tricks. But it had been an exceptionally difficult day so I was going to talk to everyone about how what they did affected others. I told the class that when I looked at this particular student, just like when I looked at any of them, if he was looking at me and smiling, it warmed my heart and made me feel good inside. I made a huge deal about his special smile and said that they all had this power to make others feel good and we talked about how we all feel when someone smiles at us…. It was a small lesson in the power we have to make others happy and how when we care about people we want them to feel good.
Creating children who care is easy… All you have to do is care yourself…. Once you look at something deeply you will never be able to see it for less than it really is…