At Baby Ventures, we’re big fans of inspiring little ones to explore the world around them with wonder and compassion. Opportunities for compassion pop up every day, presenting us with teachable moments that enrich both our little ones and ourselves.
As a company of animal lovers, we’ve found that fostering a sense of compassion at an early age can be easy with everyday creature friends: tots can practice gentleness with the family pet, care not to step on backyard bugs, and learn that wild animals need to stay that way (livin’ free in the wild, as our PBS Kids cartoon faves, the Wild Kratts brothers, would say).
While walking my dogs on a park trail recently, I came across my own opportunity to practice compassion: there was a dog on the path ahead, unattended and clearly frightened. A man passed me and I asked him if he could keep an eye on the stray dog, so I could come back with a leash. To my dismay, he flatly refused.
I ran to my car with my dogs, grabbed a leash, and went back on the trail to look for the pup. After searching for some time, I couldn’t find her, and hesitantly got in my car to leave. But then on the way to the park exit, there was the little dog, standing by the side of the road. I jumped out and knelt down, gently calling for her. She came right up to me and luckily had a collar with a name tag (Abby), so I was able to contact her owner.
While waiting for her owner, I sat down in the grass with sweet little Abby. She licked me profusely, obviously relieved to see a friendly face. After several minutes of wet kisses, she laid down in my lap, rolled over for a belly rub and fell asleep, exhausted from running around lost for hours.
When Abby’s owner arrived, he explained that Abby had run off after a deer earlier that day. He’d been frantically looking for her, and was overjoyed that she was found and safe. He thanked me repeatedly, but I told him that I was the one who was thankful – for Abby.
The chance to help Abby had turned my routine afternoon at the dog park into a deeply moving experience, and it stayed with me for several days. That’s the beauty of compassion: it benefits everyone, not just the recipient. And that’s what we hope for our children to come to experience, through practice of their own acts of compassion.
How do you help instill compassion in your young children? We’d love to hear your experiences – post a comment!