“Mom, do you need any help? How’s your head?” asks 12 year old Caleb. He pauses for a moment and stares at me. He and I have been through a lot together and a knife cuts at my heart thinking about the pain he has experienced. He is always full of caring and compassion for me and I thank God daily for him.
On the flip side, my 8 year old (whom I thank God daily for also lol) seems to be oblivious to the cries of a hurt younger brother or the frustration his selfishness causes the rest of the family. Caring and compassion come naturally to some kids and to others it needs to be taught.
How do You Teach Caring and Compassion?
First of all, caring and compassion is not something that can be forced. It needs to be encouraged, shown, and taught. These are ideas that I have found helpful:
- Be an example. It always starts with us, doesn’t it? If you model caring and compassion toward your children and others, they will (hopefully!) learn to do it themselves.
- Bible stories about compassion. Read them together, point out their morals during situations you encounter together.
- Bible verses about love and caring for others. Sing songs, read them together, memorize them, write them down and put them around the house and pray that they sink in.
- Read kids books about kindness. Kids learn well through stories. It is always easy to point out what the character did during everyday situations without pointing a finger at your child.
- Show caring and compassion during play. Roleplay with stuffed animals or put on a caring puppet show. Do crafts together etc.
- Praise your child when they show compassion and caring to someone.
- Share your feelings with them. Learning the relationship between actions and words and feelings will naturally teach caring and compassion.
- Discuss their feelings with them. When someone hurts them or they are fighting with a friend or sibling, point out that how they are feeling is hurtful and what has caused it. Teaching them a direct connection between feelings and actions is important.
- Ask forgiveness. We all hurt each other from time to time. Teach them that both asking forgiveness and forgiving is showing caring and compassion toward each other.
- Make caring and compassion a family goal. Write letters to soldiers, sponsor a child, raise money together for local causes, visit nursing homes and elderly neighbors. For great community service ideas check out “Community Service for Kids, Easy Ideas to Start Today” by Savoring Each Moment.
- Sing it! Bits of Positivity has more than a dozen songs with videos to teach and encourage your kids about kindness.
Stories of Compassion in the Bible
Bible stories about compassion are a good place to start. Kids like stories and will learn lessons through them quicker than a lecture. I chose two parables of Jesus.
The first story that comes to mind is the Good Samaritan.
The Good Samaritan Teaches Caring and Compassion
The setting is Jesus speaking to a crowd of people when a lawyer stands up and asks how to receive eternal life. Jesus replies:
He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”
So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:26-28)
The lawyer isn’t happy with this answer and wishes to justify himself. He asks who his neighbor is. Rather than simply saying that his neighbor is everyone, Jesus in all his wisdom, tells this story.
Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’
It is important for our kids to understand that the Samaritans were not liked by the Jews. He would not have been considered the man’s friend.
Jesus ends this parable with the following question.
“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
The lawyer has no choice but to reply that the Samaritan was the neighbor and Jesus tells him to “go and do likewise”.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
The compassionate father in the parable of the prodigal son is an excellent example of caring and compassion. This is also a good story for teaching forgiveness. It is found in Luke 15:11-32.
A father had two sons and the youngest begged that he give him his inheritance early. So he did.
The son soon left his father and went to a far away country. He spent all of his inheritance foolishly with sinful living.
After his money was spent, there came a famine in the land and the son was in need. He began working in the fields and was so hungry that the pig feed began to look good to him.
Coming to his senses, he decides to go back home. His attitude is humble and he is prepared to ask forgiveness and a job as a servant.
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:20-24)
For more character building ideas, check out these posts!
Bible Verses about Caring for Others
Here are a few Bible verses about caring for others that might be good for discussion during devotions or to use as copywork if you are a homeschooler. (For another good post about teaching compassion in your homeschool, check out Hess Un-Academy!).
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:16-17)
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12)
Kids Books about Kindness
There are many kids’ books about kindness. One of my favorites is “Fill A Bucket” by Carol McCloud. And then of course classics like “The Giving Tree”.
The Berenstain Bears are always good for character building stories. Christian Book Distributors has them all.
Encourage Caring and Compassion with Kindness Activities for Kids
Kindness activities for kids are always fun to work into your week. I searched the web to find a few cute ones for you 🙂
Filling a bucket craft by The Art Kit Blog goes along with my favorite book that I mentioned above!
Friendship heart rocks by Red Ted Art are simple and fun!
This Family Kindness Jar by Kids Activities Blog is a wonderful idea and includes the whole family.
Send a long distance hug with this cute craft by A Fine Parent
Wall of Love by Coffee Cups and Crayons is another great idea!
Caring and Compassion Starts with Me
As I sum up this post, I am evaluating my own actions. Have I shown caring and compassion to my children? To others? Even to myself? I believe that our children learn more from our actions than any textbook, craft, or Bible verse.
Will you join me in praying that God works in our hearts as parents that we might be the light our children need to learn to show God’s love to others?
What are your go-to activities to teach caring and compassion? What stories speak to your kids? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
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