Turn small nature treasures into happy faced friends, then sprinkle them around your favorite park or woods for other people to find. Have fun looking for new, silly or sneaky spots to hide them. As you do, prompt kids and get them wondering about who will discover these smiley treasures and what those people will think and feel when they do. Nearly all kids will get swept up in the whimsical pursuit. And, without telling your child anything, you model the basics of compassion—one of the hardest and yet most important character qualities to teach kids.
How do you teach social skills, let alone empathy? It sounds daunting, especially on days when your kids struggle simply to share, take turns or be nice to a sibling who is on their nerves.
When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.—The 14th Dalai Lama (1935)
Challenging as the teaching may seem, we want more than anything to raise our kids to become loving, caring and compassionate people. So, we are trying to take a long view and remember that no one lesson or chat will do it. Instead, with the help of activities like this one, we can give them the chance to experience how fun it can be to share and think about the feelings of others. And, when a little kid relinquishes a little acorn friend and finds joy in giving something to someone else, he or she learns a bit more about giving. If we make such small gestures a part of our family's culture, then giving and sharing happiness should, hopefully, become habit.