May 2024 Preschool blog compassion
Missions Discipleship

The 3 C’s of Working with Preschoolers, Part 3: Teaching Preschoolers to Show Compassion

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”

—Colossians 3:12 (ESV)

Compassion is the heart of God. Throughout Scripture we are shown a God who sees the pain, hears the cries, and responds in mercy and compassion to His people. As we begin to train preschoolers in how to live a life that honors the Lord, compassion is a foundational principle. So where do we begin?

Help Preschoolers Understand and Identify Their Own Feelings

Preschoolers are just beginning their journey of knowing and understanding their emotions. We can help them as we make observations and provide the language for the feelings we observe. These simple observations will help preschoolers begin to understand and identify their own feelings and emotions.

“Lola, it sounds like you are feeling frustrated that Brooks took your toy.”

“Lydia, I see tears. It looks like you are feeling sad.”

Help Preschoolers Understand that Others Have Feelings Too

James 1:19 points out that listening is most important: “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (ESV). Our responses should be slow and not motivated by anger. Most of us know the regret that comes with words spoken quickly in anger. We can help preschoolers by reminding them to listen before they act.

Using words to describe an exchange between preschoolers will help them better understand the impact their actions and words have on others.

“Graham, I know you wanted Sam’s toy. But his tears tell you that he is feeling sad that you took it away from him without asking.”

Model Empathy

Empathy is simply feeling with others. Preschoolers are just beginning to learn they are not the center of the world. There are others who have the same feelings and emotions they have.

Use the weekly Group Time story in Mission Friends Leader to help preschoolers identify feelings of those in the story. They might be feeling afraid, sad, excited, or happy. Ask, “If that happened to you, how would you feel?”

Allow preschoolers to learn compassion by having opportunities to show care to others through the monthly Helping Others activity suggested in Mission Friends Leader.

Celebrate Compassion When You Observe It

Verbalize what you observe when a preschooler shares a toy or gives a hug when a friend is sad.

“Pippin, I saw how you helped Felicity feel better by giving her a hug.”

Pray for Your Preschoolers

Call preschoolers by name before the Father. Ask Him to help you as you guide them in learning about Him. As you interact with your preschoolers each week, show them compassion. Let them observe how you love others well by showing compassion, helping them begin to develop the heart of God.

by Teri Ussery