5 Ways to Teach Compassion to Your Grandchildren


Becoming a grandparent is one of the greatest privileges in life. Not only do you have more time to spend with your grandchildren, but there is less pressure, less responsibility, and less mess. As a grandparent, you can watch your grandchildren grow and take joy in seeing their personalities develop.

You are a source of love, encouragement, and judgement-free advice, and you also provide the fun! While parents are busy disciplining and teaching, a trip to your home is always a treat.

But as your grandchildren get older in a world heavily-focused on social media “likes,” picture perfect posts, and putting yourself (and selfie) first, you can’t help but worry they’ll miss out on what really is important in life. Being compassionate means empathizing with others and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s an important character trait that results in warmhearted, kind and charitable people – and it’s what we need more of today.

Photo: Tom Bradley


Here are 5 ways you can help instill a spirit of compassion in your grandchildren:

1. Be a role model. Your grandchildren are always watching. They see how you treat restaurant servers, the environment and how you respond when someone is having a bad day. Though Google may provide a quick answer to their endless questions, your life lessons on courage, hospitality, and compassion are priceless.

2. Pay It Forward. You or your parents may have arrived in Canada without much. Perhaps you started a business from the ground up, raised children, and earned enough to give them a comfortable life. If this is your story, share it with your grandchildren and consider investing in someone else’s future.

You can do this by giving a gift in honour of your grandchild to help someone learn to read for $50. After all, how many times did you have to read their favourite book to them? What a great reminder of the importance of education!

Or for the young entrepreneurs who have a million business ideas- challenge them to fundraise to give someone the gift of sight with reconstructive eye surgery for $226. This is a great way to teach about philanthropy and how their actions can change someone’s life. Bonus tip: offer to match every dollar they raise, it will be a great motivator!

3. Volunteer. Your grandchild is probably clueless about using a rotary phone or cursive writing, but one way to get them to slow down is to teach them a skill that will help them create something real. You may have learned knitting from your grandparent, and this would be a great “retro” skill your grandchild could learn. And if you could also use the time to teach them about helping others, it would have double the impact!

Check out the free Hope Doll Knitters program through effect:hope (The Leprosy Mission Canada). The dolls are sent to children affected by leprosy and other diseases of poverty.

4. Nurture their inner superhero. It’s hard to keep up with all the superhero shows and movies that are popular in your grandchild’s life. But if they choose to don a mask and cape and “fight bad guys,” go with it. Teach grandchildren about good versus evil, dealing with bullies and the proper way to right wrongs. One of the hardest things for children and youth is standing up to peers. Talk to your grandchild about the importance of not always going with the crowd.

5. Buy meaningful gifts. With the holidays quickly approaching, you may be on the hunt for the perfect gift for your grandchild. But along with that new toy or latest gadget, you can also give them a gift to teach compassion. Shop the effect:hope Gifts of Care catalogue with your grandchild. You’ll find a variety of options for every budget to support people living with leprosy and other diseases of poverty. 

A special bonus offer for Zoomer subscribers looking to surprise your grandchildren!  Go to http://www.effecthope.org/ZoomerHopeDoll to Cure a Child in honour of your grandchild and they will receive a custom certificate and doll as a reminder of what their spirit of compassion was able to accomplish.

effect:hope is Canada’s leading leprosy mission. Every day, 600 people are diagnosed with leprosy, of which 50 are children. effect:hope finds and treats people all over the world with leprosy and other diseases of poverty. Find out more at www.effecthope.org.