Compassionate and Calm: Part One

We desire our children to have compassion for others. To understand there is a time to be calm. The book, Calm and Compassionate Children, by Susan Dermond begins with these four themes, Ritual and Routine, Nature, Stories, and Pets. Read on for snippets of the book that I found interesting...

Ritual and Routine
"What makes a ritual calming and reassuring is that it is an event meaningful to adults that children can join in."

It doesn't have to be Candyland! Seasonal rituals are a good place to start. Think collecting nature items for a winter wreath. Or gazing out at the Christmas lights in the back yard together.
"Seasonal rituals and holiday celebrations do more than create a rhythm, security, and a calm predictability: they also transmit our values. Their cyclical nature reminds us that behind change and seeming chaos there is order and calm."
Order and calm. How I am loving these words right now. I love being a parent when things are calm. And in order. Wonderful.

Here are a couple other fun rituals to try:

Make a big deal the first time you purchase a food that symbolizes the season (strawberries, watermelon, pumpkins, mandarin oranges).

Make hot cider to drink on the morning of the first frost.

"Think about how stressful it is to learn something new or make a transition, whether it is academic or technological, or environmental. "The young child is ALWAYS functioning at this level of adapting and learning new skills. Not only is she acquiring language, culture, and knowledge of what is and is not appropriate, but she is also constantly pushing at the edge of her abilities of gross and fine motor skills."
"If the child is hurried here or there, if constant unexpected transitions happen, or especially if she does not get enough rest, the stress level becomes too high. When the stress level rises, calmness turns into frustration, crying, lack of cooperation, and sometimes hyperactivity."
Routine. Bedtime at the same time every night. Morning songs together. Shopping trips earlier in the morning. Consistent nap-time. Regular meals.

We've been singing more lately. Peter too. So fun. Have I told you about the "Stop Sign Song"? "When I wake up in the morning and I lift up my -- stop sign...STOP SIGN!! What a fun morning ritual! Other ideas are evening songs, leaving songs and coming home songs...whatever sets the mood for you!
"Daily rituals give children memories for a lifetime. I remember fondly how my father brought me a little glass of orange juice each school day when he woke me up in the morning. It did not necessarily make me get up any more eagerly, but the predictability of this daily gesture made me feel secure in his love."

Aaaaah. My favorite. Nature is so powerful. There's nothing like it. 
"Nothing surpasses the power of nature to relax and engage children in a way that calms them and opens their hearts."

"When children have the chance to be aware in nature, they almost always feel that kinship, and feeling kinship with any form of life increases one's compassion."
Silent Bird Count -- lay side-by-side-on-your-backs and listen for bird calls, making a mental count, then compare notes

Meet a Tree -- blindfolded, your partner leads you to a new tree friend, which you get to explore with many of your senses, your partner leads you away, takes off the blindfold and you get to guess which tree you "met"

"Like nature, stories are a springboard to compassion because they stimulate feeling and open the heart."

"Children will inevitably play pretend games based on the stories that they know; they imitate the main characters in the movies they see and the books they hear. So why not give them stories with characters you want them to imitate?"
Story read-alouds. Telling made-up stories. Acting out puppet shows.When older, talking about the characters motives and feelings. Definitely heart-opening opportunities.


Tim would guffaw. No more biomass, he says. But I really think it's true -- pets increase feelings of  compassion.
"Children raised with pets show many benefits. Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child's self-esteem and self-confidence. Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy."