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One Easy Habit to Help Your Kids Become More Compassionate - Guideposts
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One Easy Habit to Help Your Kids Become More Compassionate

Especially in times of stress, here’s a simple affirmation that can help the whole family think of others with kindness.

One easy habit for your kids
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When my son was younger, he was terrified of sirens.  Their screaming, flashing warnings went straight through his sensitive nervous system. I sought out advice for how to help him. A friend suggested a response that could help him focus on how a siren means that helpers are on their way. And that, in turn, led to one easy habit that helped my son and the whole family.

“I hope everybody’s ok.” That is the simple phrase I taught my son to say aloud, even as he covered his ears and took deep breaths to keep calm until the loudness passed.

Read More: How to Find Calm When You Are Overwhelmed

Now, years later, we still say the phrase every time we see an ambulance or other emergency vehicle screaming past. For that matter, we say it when traffic comes to an abrupt standstill.

From Strategy to Habit

More than a fear-reducing strategy, I realize it’s become one easy habit that helps us keep our compassion tank fueled and filled.

After all, a siren—assuming, God willing, that it’s not headed toward us—often represents an inconvenience. It’s blocking traffic, extending stoplights, or slowing drivers or pedestrians. When we’re in a rush to get from A to B, we might feel a surge in our stress level as we fret over how whatever is going on affects our travels.

Read More: 10 Ways to Fight Stress

This one easy habit helps us pause just long enough to acknowledge that, yes, there’s an emergency. But it prompts us to wish everyone involved safety and support. And it reminds us to prioritize compassion and to practice gratitude for our own safety.

A Shift in Perspective

When we’re stressed, we don’t see the full picture of what’s going on around us. Saying out loud that we are thinking about others keeps our minds focused on kindness and positivity. We can then shift from a situation that’s out of our control and beyond our sight. We are now thinking about someone else—not how our day has been temporarily delayed.

Read More: How to Cultivate Positive Habits That Last

Over time, practicing this one easy habit has become a touchstone for my family’s ability to stay calm and kind when flashing lights appear. Maybe it will help you too?

Read More: The Power of Positive Thinking

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