tIn The Back Story, Angel tries to be more adventurous and, in that way, more like Little Honey. She climbs up Little Honey’s favorite tree but falls, as she is descending, directly onto her back. That part of the story is enough to give the book its title. But there is more to the story. Little Honey tries to be more like Angel, by being gentle and compassionate. She not only goes for help after Angel falls, but kisses Angel’s back before her Daddy arrives on the scene to bring Angel to home.
One of the Little Honey’s Little Lessons for this book states, “When someone you love climbs too high, watch their back.” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the phrase “watch someone’s back” is an idiom in our language and culture that has developed the following meaning - “to protect someone who is doing something that is dangerous or risky.”
This is a complicated notion and yet Little Honey did what she could to watch her sister’s back, handling the dangerous situation well. How is it that a young child could learn the basics of protecting and caring for someone?
There are really two parts to this. In order for a child to feel competent to help someone else in a dangerous situation, they need to understand some basic safety rules. They also need to develop empathy for others. To learn both of these, the answer is simple – they need role models to show them.
You are probably already doing this. You show your child you care by keeping them as safe as possible. When you treat your child with kindness and respect, they learn to treat others with kindness and respect. Then when they have demonstrated compassion, you are providing the right type of positive reinforcement to encourage them to continue with this behavior.
One of our favorite children’s books is called Love You Forever. In this story a mother sings a lullaby to her young son throughout his life regardless of his behavior until, when she has grown too old to sing to him, he sings the lullaby to her and ultimately to his own child. It is a simple and loving example of how modeling behavior and compassion has a profound impact. Do you have an example of how you help your children develop compassion for others? If so, feel free to share in the comments below.