Teaching a 5 year old compassion is like going to the Dentist

This morning after being inspired by another book that I have on the go, I suggested to London that I would like her to help 3 classmates today or compliment them.  Examples  would be helping a classmate with their lunch (kids in the class are always having troubles opening stuff), or with reading (London is quite advanced on the reading front), or complimenting a friends hair style or their shirt.  This isn’t the first time that I have encouraged London to help out with her class-mates particularly her younger JK peers but it has been awhile.  Anyway she looked at me as if I sprouted another eye or asked her to eat a vegetable she doesn’t like.

She then retorted “well, what if they didn’t do their own hair?”

My husband chimed in that it doesn’t matter and how is that different when I do her hair nicely and someone comments on it.

Since I had to head out the door I sensed that it was a lost cause to continue and out I went.

Buddhist’s believe that you are born with innate goodness and we stray from it due to a misunderstanding of how to achieve happiness. I can buy that but it seems that it is just as natural to be selfish, jealous, envious, angry, etc.  I swear London was programmed with this orientation despite having some wonderful qualities, some only a mother could love 🙂

Recently I heard on one of the CBC programs a study that was done on children and choice making.  I tried to look up the study but couldn’t find it. Essentially I believe the premise was that each child in the study was given two options: 1) they could have one cookie/treat and their friend could then have one cookie/treat or 2) they could give their friend 3 cookies/treats but they would only get one.  I can’t remember the exact stats but most children selected the first option whereby they would not be at a disadvantage then their peers, even though the second option would allow their friend to benefit from more  satisfaction (my words).

I posed the same situation with London after hearing about this study and instead used her sister as the other person in consideration. Almost with hesitation, she chose the first option. I asked her why that option and she said she didn’t want her sister to have more than what she would have. Wow.   I am 100% convinced this is ingrained in her DNA for we have always made an effort to share within the family – food, material items, clothes, etc.

I am not done with my quest though to teach London compassion.  Of course I have lots of learning to do but the sooner she gets off what this book refers to as the “me” plan the greater chance she will be more satisfied/happier in her life, immediate and longer term.


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