Understanding others begins with empathy. It is the act of putting yourself in another’s shoes.
Often teenagers can have difficulty in this area because their own problems seem to loom so large in their minds. The teenage years are the period when it is hardest to genuinely feel the emotional plight of others.
To help develop empathy, it is important to be a really good listener. When your children are speaking to you, regardless of the topic at hand, always listen to them with respect.
React to your teenager as you would to an adult friend. Make a real effort to listen as much as you talk.
When you have information to convey on an important topic, speak for half a minute or so, and then stop and let your child have a chance to react.
Accept the fact that most teens will complain sometimes. Let them air their grievances fully and completely. Try not to interrupt while they are expressing their feelings.
Most importantly, take time to have relaxed conversations alone with each of your children on a regular basis.
Frequent talks will help you spot difficulties before they become real problems.
It’s important that all involved be encouraged to talk AND to listen.