The Simple Steps to Empathy In Teens
Empathy is a vital part of emotional intelligence. Regardless of how hard you’ve worked to be empathetic, or to be emotionally aware of others, it can still be hard to “know” someone when you’re with them. This is a common problem when talking to teens about things such as dating, sex and serious relationships.
Sadly, “empathy” isn’t much of a concept in our world, and it can seem impossible to be an adult and practice empathy. Fortunately, there are ways to improve empathy — both for yourself and your teen — so that you can reach them and get them to practice proper emotional understanding. Here are a few effective ways to help you get there.
It’s essential to show teens you’re not there to please them, but rather to help them understand themselves better and how others respond to them. It’s important to provide them with “safe” guidelines, so that they can understand how to approach you in certain situations. This will help you develop positive relationships, which will then be beneficial in other aspects of life.
• Teach them to have self-awareness. Teens who have self-awareness understand what will appeal to them and their circumstances, and show they can recognize when they’re not entirely in the know.
• Model that confidence with your own self-awareness. Once they begin to see that you have an overall, positive perspective on life, you’ll be able to inspire them to come up with their own strategies on how to approach situations.
Whether it’s encouraging them to think critically about their own romantic relationship and the consequences that could stem from having one, or giving them empathy when they feel distress and disappointment, the more you can instill into them the desire to feel empathy for themselves, the easier it will be for them to practice it.
Inexperience provides opportunities for all of us to have problems with empathy, so we all go through it at different ages. If this is the situation where you’re trying to teach them about being empathetic, you will need to establish the point at which they will be comfortable feeling their feelings without having a negative reaction to themselves, and will realize that being empathetic means accepting other’s feeling and purpose in life.
Allow Them to Walk
Understand that everyone walks around with boundaries set for themselves. This might mean keeping them to themselves. It might also mean allowing them to walk a little farther toward the object of their interest. Whatever it is that works for them. In time, however, they’ll be able to understand boundaries for themselves in a way that will let them share them, too.
Go Through Your Own History
Know your own life, in whatever capacity it may be. Know the days and times of your life that were solid and happy, and understand the times in which you were having problems — issues that might not be anyone else’s business. It’s important to remember that all that matters is how you feel about yourself, so don’t get held up by anyone else’s burden. The more you have something to live for, the better it is for everyone.
Don’t Make Excuses
The more you try to convince yourself that there’s not a problem, the less those around you will take action or support you when there is. It is in this way that you communicate to your teen that this is something they need to handle on their own.
Above all, you should talk to them, and develop your relationship with them. This is one of the most important things you can do, because when you do this, you’ll be the one to show them how to get better about their emotions.