Compassion and empathy don’t come naturally to most children. Here are some ways to teach children about compassion, so they think and feel about others and what they are going through.

  1. Watch to see where your child’s heart is tender. Many children are soft toward babies and animals. Talk about that and let your child express how he feels – protective? loving? sympathetic? Then strengthen the bond of compassion where it is already beginning.

  2. Relate the situations of others to your child’s experiences. Is there a new child in class? Help your child remember a time when he felt alone or insecure. This helps him understand how someone else may feel and what he might do to reach out to the new child.

  3. Lower the shield a little. At this age, it’s OK to start allowing your child to see some of the problems in the world and how the problems affect individuals, especially children. Be sensitive, though – you don’t want to overwhelm him.

  4. Encourage your child to take action, and make it as hands-on as possible. The stronger the connection between your child’s action and the cause, the more he will understand the importance of reaching out to others. Your family might want to help at an animal shelter or a soup kitchen.

  5. Read to your child about Jesus’ compassion for children, the crowds, the hungry, the crippled, etc. This reflects God’s heart of compassion and shows how to see others through His eyes.

From Focus on Your Child’s Discovery Years, February 2008. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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