Act kindly – A book in Dutch about compassion training for children

by | Sep 26, 2023

In the world we live in today, kindness and compassion are qualities that are easily overwhelmed by the harshness we can meet in ourselves and in the world around us. However as science has confirmed, kindness and compassion are very important contributors to wellbeing – intrapersonally and interpersonally. Marjolein Prenger and Irma Smegen have now written a book to teach these qualities to children between 8 and 13 years old. They are both very familiar with the practices of mindfulness and compassion and their inspiration came from the MBCL programme developed by Erik van den Brink and myself in 2007.

With guidance from the book, children can practise (self-)compassion on their own or with an adult. It teaches them that it is not always possible to do everything right and that it is fine to be different from the rest. They also clarify that kindness can also sometimes mean setting a limit to oneself or to another person, however preferably in a respectful manner. The title of the book,  ‘Doe’s lief’ or ‘Act kindly’ is inspired by a Dutch independent advertising foundation, using campaigns (with a good sense of humour) to bring social issues to the attention of the Dutch public, opinion leaders and decision-makers.

The book is written in accessible language and with the help of short exercises, children learn how to look at themselves and others with kind eyes and step by step. The authors developed this training for and together with children between 8 and 13 years old, with the intention that is very well expressed by the Dutch comedian Dolf Jansen: ‘Kindness is a word that contains everything to make your life more beautiful.’


See https://www.boompsychologie.nl/100-12801_Doe-s-lief for information (in Dutch) about ‘Doe’s lief’- Compassietraining voor kinderen’ (Uitgeverij Boom, 2023) by Marjolein Prenger and Irma Smegen.