One Friday night when my parents were watching our daughter, they called to say that one of their dogs suffered a stroke and they needed to bring her to the animal hospital. It was getting late in the evening and close my daughter’s bedtime. Instead of taking my daughter home to bed, I decided to have her stay at the hospital with my parents. I got in my car, drove to the hospital and decided to use this as a learning experience on compassion and empathy. We talk about, read about it in books, but for her to experience, hands on, what it means to show compassion towards a sick animal is the best way for her to learn.

When we all arrived at the hospital, I witnessed my daughter holding the sick dog with a blanket, she carefully picked out for her. She was trying to give her some water and rocking her back and forth. It was the sweetest thing to watch. We explained to her why we were there, what was wrong with the dog and how we could help her. I said we needed to show her love and compassion and stay with the dog as the doctor examined her.

As I was explaining this, I thought to myself, “does she really understand what I am saying?.” Well, she did. She knew what was going on and how she could help make the scary situation better. She knew what it meant to keep calm and stay focused. For an almost three year old, I was impressed. Here I am, thinking I am going to make this a learning lesson and my daughter is already in action.

She caught me by surprise and it was beautiful to watch. Sometimes we don’t give our children enough credit, we think that we have to explain things to them, over and over again. All we really need to do sometimes, is sit back, watch them do what they do best, show love and empathy to furry little animals who cross their path.