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Teaching Compassion with Kindness Activities for Preschoolers

Teach your children to be compassionate and kind with these teaching strategies and kindness activities.

Teaching Compassion with Kindness Activities for Preschoolers

Teaching Compassion with Kindness Activities for Preschoolers

Compassion is a quality that children need to learn so they can form positive relationships, show respect to their families, teachers, and peers, and grow emotionally, mentally, and socially. You can help your preschoolers become more compassionate by teaching them the importance of kindness. 

What is kindness?

The American Psychological Association defines kindness as “benevolent and helpful actions that are intentionally directed toward another person.” Being kind requires being helpful, empathetic, generous, and considerate. You can help your preschoolers understand kindness by explaining that kindness means doing nice things for others without expecting anything in return.

Group of multiethnic preschoolers hugging on the playground.


Why is kindness important?

Kindness benefits children's mental, physical, social, and emotional health. Teaching your preschoolers to be kind can make your classroom more inclusive and promote positive behaviors that help children avoid conflicts and feel accepted by their peers.

When children perform acts of kindness for others, this helps them form social connections and focus on other people's needs, which can help to increase children's sense of well-being.

How to teach kindness to preschoolers

Try these strategies in your classroom to teach kindness to your preschoolers:

Encourage children to help others

Helping others is one way that your preschoolers can learn to be kind. Assigning your preschoolers classroom jobs, such as passing out materials or feeding the class pet, gives them opportunities to show kindness by helping their teachers and contributing to an organized classroom experience. Classroom jobs help children understand how being kind to one person can benefit many people.

Acknowledge kind and unkind behaviors

You can help children understand kindness by acknowledging kind and unkind acts and behaviors during the school day. For example, if your preschoolers do something kind, such as sharing their toys or supplies without being prompted, you should acknowledge the kind act and praise them for it (e.g., "Thank you for sharing your crayons with James. That was very kind of you").

If your preschoolers do something unkind, such as calling someone a rude name, you should acknowledge the unkind behavior and give them the opportunity to correct it (e.g., "It isn't kind to call our friends names. You hurt Destiny's feelings. What can you do to make her feel better?"). Acknowledging your preschoolers' behaviors and responding to them appropriately can teach them how to be kind and avoid showing unkind behavior. 

Demonstrate kindness

Children learn by observing others and imitating what they see. You can teach your preschoolers how to be kind by modeling kindness. For example, you can thank your school's custodial staff for cleaning your classroom or thank other teachers for assisting with an activity. When preschoolers observe your kindness toward others, they will imitate your behavior in the future and show kindness to their friends, teachers, and families.

Kindness activities for preschoolers

You can help your preschoolers learn to be kind by including kindness activities in your curriculum. A tool like brightwheel's lesson plan feature enables you to easily create curriculum, log observations, and share progress with families.

Below we’ve included some activity ideas to provide inspiration for your lesson plans:

Toothpaste words

This activity teaches children why they need to use kind words and think before they speak. For this activity, you'll need a small tube of toothpaste, a plastic spoon, and a paper plate.


  • Give each child a small tube of toothpaste, a plastic spoon, and a paper plate.
  • Ask the children if they think they can get the toothpaste back into the tube after it has been squeezed out. Most of your preschoolers will believe they can.
  • Have the children squeeze all of the toothpaste onto the paper plate.
  • Have the children use a plastic spoon to try to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Your children will quickly realize that it is impossible to reinsert the toothpaste.
  • Explain to the children that the toothpaste is like hurtful words. Just as it's impossible to put the toothpaste back into the tube after it's been squeezed out, it's also impossible to take back hurtful words after they've been said. Therefore, it's important to be careful with our words, because we cannot undo the harm our hurtful words may cause others.

Read stories about kindness

Reading stories can help you start a discussion about kindness in your classroom by introducing your preschoolers to characters and scenarios that show them the consequences of kind and unkind behaviors.

Some books that you can read to your preschoolers to teach them about kindness include:

Kindness greeting cards

Creating art for others is an excellent way for children to show kindness and empathy. For this simple activity, you'll need construction paper and markers.


  • Help your preschoolers trace their hand on a piece of construction paper.
  • Ask your preschoolers to name five ways they can care for others.
  • Use a marker to write each of your preschoolers’ answers in one of the finger shapes.
  • Have your children give their cards to their families or mail them to a local retirement center as gifts to the residents.

Sidewalk art

You can have your preschoolers use chalk to draw pictures on the sidewalk outside your childcare center. These drawings help children explore their creativity while making art  the whole community can enjoy. You can also help your children write positive and uplifting messages on the sidewalk for passersby to see. This activity is a great way to show your preschoolers how small acts of kindness can brighten someone's day.

A child drawing a colorful flower on the ground with chalk.


Compliment circles

This activity teaches preschoolers to give and receive compliments.


  • To begin, have everyone sit in a circle with their legs stretched out in front of them. 
  • Ask for a volunteer to say another child's name and compliment them.
  • Have the child who received the compliment say "thank you" and then pull their legs in to sit criss-cross. This will signal to the class who has already received a compliment.
  • Continue around the circle until everyone has given and received a compliment.

Final thoughts

These activities and strategies are simple ways to instill positivity, kindness, empathy, and compassion—qualities that will help your preschoolers succeed in every aspect of their lives. It may take time for your children to grasp these qualities. By praising and reinforcing your children's kind behaviors, you can help them understand the impacts of their kindness and encourage them to be kind and considerate to others in the classroom, at home, and in their communities.

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