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teen empathy

The Parenting Guide to Teaching Teens Empathy

Empathy means the capacity to understand or feel what another person feels or experiences in any given situation. People can generally learn empathy at any given age, but a younger person’s mind is still growing and learning (and pretty self-centered). As parent’s, we can help these young minds learn empathy as an important skill to foster healthy relationships as they age.

quote about empathy

Here are a few things to consider regarding empathy:

Problems with a Lack of Empathy

Most imprisoned youth, despite the varying reasons for their incarceration, share only a few common traits. One of these is their lack of empathy toward others, which is why basic facts should be considered by parents: social problems, such as poverty, unsafe neighborhoods, violence and family trauma and anything else that could affect learning processes.

A teacher’s efforts can also be more successful if the students’ emotional well-being is maintained at higher standards. In addition, social and emotional skills have a strong impact on one’s ability to learn.

How to Teach Empathy

The first step to teaching youth empathy is to make sure that he or she is aware of their own emotions, the can understand how feelings affect them, and develop a vocabulary of words and terms to easily identify their emotions. Once the youth knows how to recognize and identify emotions within themselves, they can then move on to explore how these emotions affect others. A few ways to do this are.
teaching empathy

  • Model empathy toward the teen and toward other family members
  • Buy a pet – children and teens can also treat animals with empathy and kindness
  • Role play with dolls or action figures
  • Reading fiction together with empathetic characters and
  • Watching movies and discussing them.




Benefits of Empathy

In addition to the proven facts that empathetic youth are less likely to be incarcerated in a juvenile correction facility or other behavioral rehabilitation programs, empathy brings out several qualities that can be applied in everyday life. These include the following:

  • Cultivates creativity and is the first step in the design process. No matter what you are crafting, being empathetic to others helps one better understand how their creation will be received by the one using it.
  • Nurtures unity. It brings us together in a world that grows smaller by the day. It allows us to understand our neighbors and helps us live in peace with them. It is also at the heart of collaboration, which promotes teamwork and productivity. It helps people work together more efficiently and produce a better quality of products.
  • Enhances positive emotions. These promote health and well-being, personal strengths and relationships. People with positive emotions have stronger interpersonal connections and report greater overall happiness. Scientifically, empathy causes the frontal lobes of the brain, the same part used in problem solving and planning, to be more active, exercising it and strengthening that part of the most important muscle of our body.

guide-to-teaching-empathy

Given all of the benefits associated with empathy in every facet of life, parents need to cultivate this emotion in their children. Those who practice empathy gain much in their lives. However, this trait should be instilled into young people during their childhood or for those who are teens at the latest.

Tyler Jacobson

Tyler Jacobson

Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and writer, with experience as a content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. Tyler has offered honest advice and humor to struggling parents and teens. Tyler has researched and written on education problems, disorders, the world of social media, addiction, and pressing issues with raising a teen today. Follow Tyler on:
Twitter | Linkedin | Google +

42 comments

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  • great topic to share among everyone… I hope people pass this message around as we need to make a change so we have more empathetic people in the world. It’s important to teach this more so than anything else. Learning about our own emotions is key to understanding others emotions and building that empathy for all. thanks for sharing : )

  • i try and show my kids empathy all the time so that they can also show others the same trait. it’s not always easy, but I do my best

  • I think modeling empathy and positive behaviors are the best way to teach them. Treat others as you would like to be treated!

  • This is definitely a hard lesson to teach a teen. They are self-centered by nature. My girls are sweet girls who have been raised in a Christian home, but empathy, especially for someone they are not fond of, does not come easy.

  • This is such a great post. It breaks my heart when I see people who have never been taught empathy. It’s something everyone should learn

  • Empathy is a gift and personality trait that’s not impossible to teach. You have to teach teens, all teens, about the importance of honest empathy. It is our job as parents to step in and instill that all-important skill .

  • This is a great read. I never thought about this and it has definitely raised awareness, great concept.

  • These are great tips for anyone with teens. I sure am not looking forward to when my kids grow up.

  • As a therapist I would really hard to teach this to my kids. I think our society needs to work on finding a balance on this subject.

  • I think this is such a great post. I think all kids should learn empathy. Kids should be able to know that they can talk to anyone.

  • Empathy is what we’re lacking these days. It’s good to start early when teaching kids to empathize with the people around them. These are very good suggestions on how to do just that.

  • This is a great topic for parents on teaching teens about empathy. It is so true that if someone doesn’t understand what their own emotions are they can’t understand what emotions others are feeling. Rule playing and watching movies with children then discussing the what happened in it can indeed help children understand emotions. Thanks for sharing this guide for parents.

  • Great advice. Parents will need to read this post. Nowadays teens are likely to become less empathy, it can say that they have their own world, they can’t see other’s world. Parents should educating them to be able to see others.

  • I have taught my children this virtue when they were still young. When they misbehave or treat other kids inappropriately, I take them to one side and just say, “What if that was you? What if that was done to you?
    How would you feel?” It worked pretty well. My kids are now adults and I am proud that they show empathy towards others. This is one of the basic skill sets taught to people working in customer service.

  • It is so important too teach empathy to our kids. This is such a great post. I will have to share it with my friends with kids.

  • I definitely think it’s important to teach teens empathy. With that being said, I don’t feel it’s something a lot of people really think about. This is a great article!

  • I will check this out. I have some skepticism but a healthy level of it. I feel some are just not born with the ability – others have psychological conditions limiting it. Others have plenty of empathy. Sometimes too much that it can be damaging to self.
    I do feel we can help teach it yes, bring it out indeed, but if the ability is just not there – not a lot we can do. I agree a lot of incarcerated youth, teens, even adults lack empathy. However, there could also be underlying psychological issues causing that – that no amount of teaching can help.
    Still – if there is a way to help, I am all for that!
    This is where having a book like this could really help.
    We should never give up on our children, even as adults.

  • This is really interesting to read, I’ve always had the ability to pick up on feelings of others around me and hopefully from that be able to be empathetic to those around me.

  • Empathy is the strongest quality my parents rooted in me. I sometimes get used by people because of that but at the end of the day I only feel sorry for them. It is definitely waht I want my kids to learn

  • A thought provoking post this. I suppose the best thing we can do to teach empathy to our children is to show them how through our own actions. Our children mirror what they see.

  • This article would have been great for me to read many years ago when my oldest son needed to be taught empathy. He is now 22 and has learned empathy but it was hard for him to learn.

About Author

Tyler Jacobson

Tyler Jacobson

Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and writer, with experience as a content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. Tyler has offered honest advice and humor to struggling parents and teens. Tyler has researched and written on education problems, disorders, the world of social media, addiction, and pressing issues with raising a teen today. Follow Tyler on:
Twitter | Linkedin | Google +