The story of the Good Samaritan, which we find in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, is a favorite story in our school. In Preschool and the Early Grades, it comes alive through storytelling using a pop-up book or a simple storybook. In the Upper Grades, a short skit in the class gets everyone involved and excited. Complete with props, shorts scripts in hand or some adlib lines, they all get into their assigned roles. Whether read, heard or acted, for young children or adolescents the reaction towards the man robbed, beaten and left for dead is always the same: they are “moved with compassion at the sight” (Luke 10:33).
Compassion is rooted in love. It takes on the pain of the one who is hurting but there is hope that something good will come out of that suffering that is shared.
How do we teach children about compassion?
Share and process stories that show the value of helping someone, such as the Gospel of the Good Samaritan.
Model it: have the readiness to comfort, to sympathize, and to show concern and care. Our actions speak louder than our words.
Provide opportunities to share: in our school, even young children are involved in community projects and outreach activities.
Encourage it by taking notice of his acts of compassion. Practice saying:
o Thank you, for sharing your toy with your younger sister. She really enjoyed playing with it.
o I appreciate you helping Mama watch over your brother. It gave me some time to finish our dinner.
o It was kind of you to wait without complaining when you noticed how Daddy was a little preoccupied.
Helping your child understand the other person’s feelings and situations would help him become more sensitive to others.
Do not be afraid to cry and show that you too are moved by something – a story you hear, something that is happening to your family, or even watching the news.
This important value of compassion takes practice. To notice others, and to do something about what we see, no matter how small may go against what the world tells us today. But there is truly no other way to make our world a better place.