How to Help Your Teen Develop Empathy and Compassion

The best thing about empathy and compassion is they are skills that can be taught, practiced, and improved over time. 

Your teen will pick up on things they see at home and carry them into their own life. You can model empathy, compassion, and kindness in big and small ways.

You can:

  • Model the act of giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming others have good intentions. 
  • Ask how you can support your teen during a tough week instead of just asking how they are doing. 
  • Share times when you have supported friends going through something and ask how they support their friends

Conversation Starters

  • “What’s something you admire about a friend?” 
  • “What do your friends tell you they appreciate about you?” 
  • “Has someone done something to help you, that you now do to help others?”

Small Moments

  • Acknowledge when your teen shows kindness. 
  • Ask your teen if someone did something nice for them, or if they did something nice for someone else this week.
  • Put a short, supportive note in their lunch, on their mirror, or on their pillow. 
  • Send random texts of kindness. 

Acts of Kindness

  • Ask your teen to think about a cause they care about and look for local volunteer opportunities your family can do to support it. 
  • Enlist your family in putting together care packages for people who are unhoused to keep in the car and hand out. 
  • Encourage your teen to bring a treat for a friend on an exam day or write a supportive note for their sibling before a sporting event or performance.

child being comforted by a parentDownload The Choose Kindness Project’s Parent Playbook on How to Support the Development of Kindness & Empathy in Our Youth for more ideas, practices, and activities to make empathy and compassion one of your family’s driving values. 







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