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All post and stories are the sole property of Velvet Over Steel aka Coreen Trost. I write and create post in order to help others, so share as you want. I just ask that you link back or give VOS credit. Some of the stories are going into a book in progress. Thank You ALL.. for your support and help!!
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." ~ John Quincy Adams

Monday, April 5, 2010

Teaching Compassion

The definition of Compassion is a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. It is often thought to be the key component in Altruism (pronounced: pronounced /ˈæltruːɪzəm/) which is selfless concern for the welfare of others; as defined by Wikipedia.

I think of compassion as having great empathy for someone, whether it is because they seem to be struggling, hurting, lonely or lost either emotionally or spiritually. Meaning to have no faith or hope in anything.

I also have compassion for those who seem outcast or ridiculed in some way. Everyone is ‘different’ in some way. We should embrace with each others ‘uniqueness’. And really what is ‘normal’ anyway and to whom?

I think I’ve always tried to be nice to everyone. I was never the bully or even argumentative although I think I was ‘too’ nice and naive in the past. I really tried to treat other people the way I would want to be treated. I truly thought most people did what was right or kind unless there was a reason no too.

Watching what my youngest son has gone through has opened my eyes to the rest of the world. I have learned so much from seeing his pain and even fear at times growing up. From people yelling at a little boy walking his dog to get out of their yard, calling him horrible names, just because they considered him ‘different’.   Another time a neighbor told her daughter that he couldn’t jump on her trampoline with the rest of the kids.. yelling “get the “R” off”!  He was just a little boy at the time!

Then my son got older, and at his previous school, kids were allowed to bully and even ‘spit’ on him, trip him and call him names.  He was afraid to walk home because he would get chased and teased.  I was told that kids were just being kids. Really, my kids never did that.. nor would I have allowed it if they did.

Where are the adults teaching kids right from wrong and compassion for any one?  I think it should be both at homne and school.  The teachers and administrators at my son's last school did a great job.  There was no tolerance or excuses.  My son finally felt safe at school!

This has been a very troubling and upset concern of mine for a long time now. I would like to know what other parents or both ‘special’ and ‘normal’ kids think.  Who do you think should teach compassion and how would you handle these situations on either side.

Thanks my friends for all your comments and feedback! It helps me and other parents more than you know. HUGS to you all!!
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  1. i try to teach my boys this each and every day...i felt it when i was young...i dont want them to feel the same...i have little tolerance for ignorance...

  2. Coreen I love this post. We are actually a very compassionate family. I believe I am teaching my boys the same, actually have been told this by teachers. When they see a child hurt or sad they are usually the first ones to go over. My youngest Jack recently helped a boy in his class who was struggling with missing his MOM, he was home schooled his entire life til now third son told him if he kept it together all week without crying he was going to give him something special...hence it worked, and the boy found a new friend in Jack:) You are awesome~!

  3. Bullying should never be tolerated. I still feel guilty about not standing up for some of the kids in our class that got bullied when we were younger. No child should ever have to experience that.

  4. The teaching of compassion starts at home and should be continued at school.

    If I witness my child being bullied, I would see how he would handle the situation himself first and would step in only when I think it's needed. But if my son is the one who's being mean, I would step in in a heartbeat. While I believe that kids (those who could) need to learn to fend for themselves, bullying should never ever be tolerated.

  5. I had a good teacher in my mother for compassion and hopefully I have passed it on to my 3 children. To have compassion is worth all the money in the world, it is high on my list of human atributes,
    Thanks for an excellent post.

  6. I started when my son was very small to be kind to animals and even insects. Then to others as well. I would not tolerate his being rude or cruel to any one or any thing. Then he was bullied in school terribly, because he was smaller than the others. Teachers were no help and I did my best to keep his spirits up. He finally grew and stood up to the bullies and it pretty much stopped. We were both relieved.
    But now he is the kindest, most compassionate man I know.
    Great post!! Parents have to take the time to "teach" compassion to their kids.
    Thanks so much for visiting my blog. And I appreciate your wonderful comments.

  7. Awwww Coreen! It is NOT okay to spit on a kid at school- special or not. That is inhuman. It is extremely lowly behavior on part of those kids. Thank God you managed to change school.

    I can tell you from a kid's point of view, these scars remain with you for life. Of course you choose not to talk about it, but they remain. I know they do out of experience. I'm so glad this child has loving, supportive and understanding parents.

    You keep going. Keep doing all that you do. Your child will rise out of the muck and make you so so proud. One day. Surely. Watch.

  8. what kind of world we are in makes me utterly sad and heart-broken...well my shcool had moral science classes (we had no grades for it) taught me to warm and smiling to taught me to share...and so did my teachers..also lot of these things come from your is sad that the world i see as grown up is different from the book and its is nice to see that the school took a stand...but the little breaks my are courageous...real powerful..... i have immense respect for you as a mother...hug the little boy from my side..and tell him ... we are sorry for gifting him a world which has lost its true meaning..kiss him from my side and tell him ...we are sorry..for we are blind to his hurting him we have hurt the power which created him...tell him... we are sorry ..because we are a world full of filty minds and dead souls ...let him know he is so special to some

  9. Thank you all for your comments! My 'little boy' has grown up to be a very compassionate young man. Still gets judged by his 'differences' sometimes and some people still have pre-conceived notions unfortunately!
    He is now in college and so compassionate towards others, esp. with 'differences'. I am so proud of him for many things, but esp. that!

  10. My kids have been taught not to treat other people that way. Mean is mean. Being a kid is not an excuse for being mean. ESPECIALLY we should not mistreat those who are already at a disadvantage. And it IS the job of the parents (or the teachers if they are the ones watching) to teach that it is unacceptable to bully and pick on other people. I can truly not comprehend those who lack this sort of basic common sense and compassion.

    Society exists for the benefit of the weak. It is the elderly, and the children, and the disabled who should be protected by society.

    I simply cannot imagine anyone treating your son the way you've described. It is sooo horrible. No excuse!

  11. My blood pressure went up just reading this post. Seriously! I HATE bullies...and the ones that pick on special needs kids...deserve a special brand of punishment!!

    For both of my older children (I haven't had this talk with my 10 year old yet, but will soon) I sat down with them and tried to guide them in a direction where they would grow up to be the type of person who would stand up for the little guy. I knew that neither of them had the type of personality that would be susceptible to bullying, but it was important to me that they go beyond that. It most certainly is the parents responsibility to teach this behavior, and I take that very seriously!

  12. bullies are cowards, and no matter what the situation be it school, work or any other situation, great post dear xxx

  13. There should be a ZERO TOLERANCE rule for bullying both at home and at school. Character education ends too early in many schools. Too often we assume that by late elementary or early middle school kids have figured out right and wrong - and they have. The trouble is, we stop talking about it. I teach high school students, and I teach character education. Knowing what the right thing to do is and actually choosing to do it are two different things.

    If there is not a bully-prevention program in your area, you should talk to the school board about looking into adopting the Olweus program. It has made a HUGE difference in our district.

  14. That is horrific to me. I am disgusted that children are allowed to treat others that way. I don't know your little boy, but I am sure he is the sweetest guy on earth. I think the children with special needs are often the wisest and most innocent of all, and it is important to love them and make them feel welcome and safe at all times, as we can learn so much from them! I am so sorry he had to go through that, and so happy he feels safe in his current school.
    I think courtesy is something that should be taught in the home. Why should teachers have to teach manners? Besides, by the time the child gets into school, aren't they too old to be taught the basics in manners? Teachers should not have that responsibility. They have too many other things to worry about.

  15. I am a new reader of your blog so I will have to go back and read some of your other posts. This breaks my heart the way your son has been treated and by adults. Parents and the school teachers should be teaching these things to children. At my school we teach kindness! I work with first graders and sometime they don't want to play with this child or that and we don't allow it. Everyone is allowed to play. We do not allow anyone to be mean or bully another child. When I was a young girl I was call names and it hurt very badly. I would run home crying. My brother was call Retard and that hurt me too. Children can been mean but it is up to us to teach them that it is not right.

  16. It is so sad to me that this happened to your son. I believe a child should feel safe at school and the adults should ensure that he or she does feel safe. This just breaks my heart.
    Love to you.

  17. Thank you for this lovely post corren, ilove to teach my children about compassion, and i believe as a father, i must be the one to be compassinate first..........

    thank again, i will be back visiting

  18. Teaching of compassion starts at home and should be reinforced in all other places (school, church, etc.). The lack of compassion in difficult situations should not be tolerated. It is time to get back to the basics and teach our children to be kind to others.
    Hugs, andrea

  19. Great post. One to sure make us think about how we treat others.

    I learned about showing compassion from my parents and from my wife who worked for years with special needs children (she is a social worker). She does not tolerate certain words being used in our home in any belittling type way.

    I also learned a lot from a friend of mine whose son died at age 17 from a debilitating disease. He writes about watching his special needs son get on a school bus and other kids laughing at him. My friend would cry and rage. He wrote a book on suffering that I found so insightful - "Yet Will I Trust Him: Understanding God is a Suffering World."

    Anyway, I'm a first time visitor here and I am very impressed with your blog and your writing.


  20. Compassion must be taught from day one and the best way to teach anything is by modeling it. It makes you wonder about the family which puts children out there who are bullies. It's appalling to think of a school administration tolerating it.

  21. We are all responsible for teaching compassion--first by living compassionately. It's hard to play catch-up if we don't.

  22. Hi..I’m Barb from Fri. Follow. I am your newest follower. I hope you will get a chance to visit my blog @
    & get inspired by something for your family/home. I hope you will follow me as well.

  23. Coreen,
    This is a wonderful but at the same time unsettling post. I am blessed to have two healthy 'normal'(although I agree that there really is no such thing) little girls. I am so saddened by your story and UPSET at the lack of compassion and ethics that adults in authority could display.

    I feel that teaching compassion should start at home and be most strongly enforced there. But schools should promote and tolerate nothing less than showing kindness and compassion always. My oldest is in kindergarten and they have a very strict 'no bully' policy. That's the way it should be. There certainly should be consequences at school and home for inappropriate behavior.

    I always tell my daughters that it is a wonderful thing that the world is made up of such different people. And that when we bring our differences together, it is so much more fun and exciting. I know there is some focus in school, at a young age, to talk about how everyone really is the same no matter how they look or where they come from. But that's pretty much where it stops. There needs to be more focus on embracing differnces.

    Thanks for opening your heart and sharing this with us.

    Danielle Zack


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