Dalai Lama Centre: Heart-Mind Valentines for Compassionate Love
This blog post from Heart-Mind Online looks at how compassion is integral to healthy relationships and both personal and inter-personal well-being, noting that we know compassion:
In the “What Colour is Your Heart” exercise, children can begin to associate different compassionate behaviours:
Motivates us to help those who are suffering
Allows us to have caring relationships
Helps us lean on others to buffer us from stress
Improves mood and feelings of social connectedness
Activates brain regions linked to prosocial motivation and feelings of reward
Can be increased through compassion training and loving-kindness meditation
In the “What Colour is Your Heart” exercise, children can begin to associate different compassionate behaviours with different colours:
Teaching young children to understand their emotions and needs might seem daunting, but it is an important first step in helping them learn to moderate their behaviour. Research has shown that teaching children to become aware of their feelings and how their actions affect others not only helps them regulate their emotions, but also improves their interpersonal relationships and ability to problem solve.
In this exercise, the hearts are coloured as follows:
Green Heart: Secure and calm.
Purple Heart: Getting along with others.
Red Heart: Alert and engaged.
Orange Heart: Being kind and sharing.
Blue Heart: Thinking about others and solving problems peacefully.
A more developed form of this exercise for older children can be found here. For toddlers, identifying positive behaviours using the colour system, and creating a heart for them in the appropriate colour, can begin to help children recognize and define compassionate behaviours.