Compassion is a virtue that some are innately born with, but all of us can learn. Developmentally, teens are wrapped up in their own worlds of friends, social events, and school; they may not actively seek out ways to show compassion, but the holidays are a perfect time of year to practice this virtue.

I recently read some comments on social media pages that triggered me to post this blog. We just celebrated Thanksgiving and Hanukkah; Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner. These holidays force us to pause for a day from our hectic schedules and give thanks for all the good in our lives. The Facebook post I read commented on the price of Turkey dinner. The person said that ‘everyone should be able to afford $40 for turkey.’ I think this person did not realize how tough things are for many people this time of year. This person received multiple comments responding to these words and most of us replied that what seems like nothing to you may be the difference between turning on the heat or paying for the month of life saving medication.

Teens and families can practice compassion in many ways. There are toy drives and clothing donations that you can give to. Cleaning out a closet of gently used items to donate is an excellent way to make space at home, but also brighten someone else’ day. Grocery stores may ask for a $1 donation to a local charity or have boxes for food donations posted near entrance ways. Opportunities to show compassion can be as simple as having your teen can offer to have a friend come to Christmas dinner or treat them to a movie.

No matter what time of year it is, there will always be people who are going through tough times. I have never met anyone who planned to be homeless or wanted to be short on finances. Take advantage of the opportunities around us to show your teen how to do something nice for a fellow human being.

Here are some ideas about how to practice compassion around the holidays:

Volunteer- seattle.gov has great ideas for volunteer opportunities

Donate to a local food bank – here is a list of food banks from Feeding America

Take toys to the local hospital as a donation (make sure the toys are new and clean)

Bake some tasty treats and give them to neighbors and friends

Drop your spare change into a Salvation Army bucket

Invite a friend over for dinner and hot chocolate