By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
Remember the “What Would Jesus Do?” craze? It is a great question, right? When you think about the words and the meaning behind them, it is a solid concept. Teaching our children to think about what Jesus would do is something worthwhile but should be more than a slogan on a bracelet or a shirt. It’s a way of living.
How did Jesus treat others? Jesus was selfless, giving, caring, and listened to what others had to say no matter how similar or different they were from him. Empathy, is a life skill we can teach our children from a young age and build on it as they grow. You can teach your kids to ask questions like, “What would Jesus do,” or “I wonder how they are feeling.” My favorite is walking into a room with a child and hearing them ask by word or action, “What needs to be done?”
Great idea, but you may be wondering how can this be accomplished? It is pretty simple really. Look for situations where a friend or a family member seems sad or angry. Work with your child at his/her age-level to brainstorm ways to help or make a difference in the situation. Little by little, you will notice your child starting to developing empathy for others and acting on it by themselves. I saw a great example of this recently outside of the Ponies room. We had a first-time visitor who was unsure about attending class that morning. One of the girls in the room noticed the struggle and made her way over to help. She sweetly talked to the visiting child and told her that she would love to play with her if she would come in. She noticed a need and went over to help. Teaching empathy and teaching our children to look outside of themselves is a gift for a lifetime. Instead of asking, “What would Jesus do”, ask “What can I do to show the love of Jesus?”