Teach children about compassion this month for lessons that last a lifetime
By Chrysti Carol Propes
Kids and adults alike look forward to Valentine’s Day for the chocolates and cards. The holiday can be about much more than candy, though. It’s also an opportunity to talk with children about compassion and how they can help others. Here are a few ideas to start the conversation with kids:
1. Discuss ways to be inclusive. If your child’s classroom exchanges valentines, make sure your child gives one to everyone in the class. Take the opportunity to talk about how others might feel if they didn’t receive a valentine, and point out ways your child can put that same attitude into practice every day of the year. For example, he could invite a classmate who is alone during recess to join his friends in a game.
2. Consider the community. Children spend much of their time in school and at home; Valentine’s Day can be a great excuse to introduce them to groups and activities in the larger community. Your church or community center may host a Valentine’s Day event, or hospitals and nursing homes may welcome visitors or valentines to cheer up patients and residents. Choose an activity that’s new for your family, and discuss what it means to be an active member of the community.
3. Donate to a charity. Nothing says love and compassion like giving to a cause that’s close to your heart. Talk with your children about why it’s important to give to charity – whether it’s time, money, or both – and involve your children in choosing the charity so the action carries extra meaning to them. My family believes so strongly in this method that we launched a program last year based on that very idea: Monkeez Makes a Difference. Our company, MVP Group International Inc., sells a line of stuffed sock-monkey animals and makes a 10 percent donation for every product purchased in the program. Children choose where the donation goes by visiting www.MonkeezAndFriends.com and learning about each of three charity partners, then selecting one. (Until March 1, visitors who enter the discount code “VDAY50” at checkout will receive 50 percent off anything in the Monkeez and Friends online store.)
4. Impart the power of words. Candy hearts with clever messages stamped on them – a Valentine’s Day favorite – can be a launching pad for talking about the power of words. For children who are starting to use social media, discuss the importance of treating others respectfully on online platforms, as well as what to do if they witness or experience cyberbullying.
Valentine’s Day may fly by in a sugar-fueled flash, but these conversations can continue well beyond Cupid’s holiday. Make compassion a 365-day initiative in your family.
Chrysti Carol Propes is the founder and director of Monkeez Makes a Difference, which teaches children the importance of helping others through kid-friendly tools including the Genuine Monkeez and Friends™ plush characters, online games, real-life Do Good challenges and a special donation on a child’s behalf to one of three nationally renowned charities. A mother of two boys, former teacher, children’s book author and writer for educational apps, Propes based the program on research that indicates it’s never too early to teach children to think of others and that children should be empowered to explore causes and reach their own decisions about what to support. Learn more at www.MonkeezAndFriends.com