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3 Ways to Encourage Compassion in Your Kids

Since God values compassion, we want our kids to know it and grow in it. Here are 3 ways you can help encourage compassion in your kids.

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As parents, we want our kids to grow up to be people who love others. We want them to be includers and encouragers – two key markers of compassion. 

The book of Ephesians in the Bible was a letter written by Paul to the church in Ephesus. Paul challenged the church to lead lives that honored God, and compassion is a huge part of that call. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Instead be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” 

3 ways to encourage compassion in your kids

Compassion is a theme found across the Bible, so we know that God greatly values it. Since God values compassion, we want our kids to know it and grow in it. Here are 3 ways you can help encourage compassion in your kids.  

1. Foster the skill of noticing  

Compassion is rooted in being able to notice the needs of those around you. We can’t have compassion if we don’t notice when it’s needed.  

But noticing is a learned skill. For kids to have opportunities to practice compassion, they first need to hone their skill of noticing. Here’s how you can help them flex this muscle: 

Build it into your routines & rhythms 

Pause with your child and ask them if they notice any tasks that may need to be accomplished in your home.  

If they’re struggling to find something, you can lead them through a conversation. For example, if you would like your child to start noticing that toys need to get put away, you could ask, “Do you see anything on the floor right now? Do you see anything that could get put away to make it easier to start a new activity?”  

This might feel unrelated to compassion, but learning to notice the events and needs outside of themselves is key to learning compassion.  

Notice out loud 

When you notice needs, talk about it with your kids and demonstrate the importance of responding to the need around them. Praise your kids and other people when you see them noticing and responding to needs.  

2. Model Compassion 

During Jesus’s time on earth, he demonstrated compassion time after time. It was a key part of his ministry. We see it in John 4 in his interaction with a woman at a well, and in Matthew 20 when he heals two blind men. And ultimately, we see Jesus’ compassion when he gave his life for us on the cross.  

Jesus modeled compassion for us, and we can use that to model compassion as parents. First, take time to define compassion with your kids. Here’s a great definition that uses some kid-friendly language.  

Compassion is a special way of showing love and care for others, just like how Jesus showed love to everyone. It means being kind, understanding, and helping those in need.  

Make this definition tangible by demonstrating opportunities to show compassion in your own life. When someone cuts you off in traffic, say a prayer for that person instead of getting frustrated. Let someone go ahead of you at the grocery store. Actively show compassion while gathering some canned goods to take to your local food pantry.  

Use your examples of compassion for conversation starters, and opportunities for your kids to ask questions. Some of the best examples at hand are the times when Jesus modeled compassion for us, but there are probably some real-time examples you can point out to your kids as well! 

3. Celebrate it when you see it 

When kids are learning a new skill, it’s important to celebrate the small wins. As they get more confident in the small things, they’ll start to become confident in the big things, too! 

Be intentional in pointing out and celebrating the times that your child has demonstrated compassion. When they see a piece of trash on the floor, for example, get excited that they noticed and made the choice to be helpful and throw it away. If they’ve chosen to share a toy or offer the last cookie to a sibling or friend, celebrate that behavior. 

There will be bumps in the road along the way. When your child struggles to show compassion, take time to pause together and reflect on how they could have made a different choice.  

Don’t forget to pray! 

Prayer is a powerful way to steer your kid toward compassion. Here is an example of a prayer that you could use with your child to encourage them in showing compassion.  

Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to us all those years ago. Thank you that he showed us how to love others and show compassion. Please help us to show compassion, kindness, and love to others even when it feels difficult. Thank you that you are always there to help us. Amen.  

There’s no magic formula 

Our journeys, and our kids’ journeys, are not linear. We can all agree that we want our kids to grow up showing compassion to those around them, but there’s no magic formula to help them grow in that area.  

As a parent, don’t forget to give yourself grace. We hope these tips will help you get started and set your child up on a path of becoming observant and compassionate! 

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Raising a child to grow up compassionate is a piece of a much larger puzzle. Here are some helpful pointers on raising a child with their future adulthood in mind.  

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LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!


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