How Empathy Is Important For Parents And Teens When Things Get Stressful
Sheryl Gonzalez Ziegler, a psychologist in Denver, Colo., explains, “When teens are overwhelmed, parents may try to connect with their kids’ feelings by drawing on their own childhood experiences. They may say things like, “When I was fourteen, I had a job, and I still did my homework and made time for my friends. I know that you can do this, too.'”
They mean well when they try to connect with their teens in this comparative way, but often it prompts a communication breakdown.
When I was your age, I had difficulty with my friends. I felt confused, and my heart was broken, too.”
She says that these disclosures remind kids that even if technology is different, human emotions are the same. Parents can bond with their kids by focusing on these similarities.
It’s particularly important to teach adolescents how to develop a specific type of empathy called cognitive empathy
If empathy helps us sympathize with how another person is feeling, cognitive empathy also allows us to try to understand someone else’s perspective and how they perceive the world, even when our feelings differ.
Because teenagers are so emotionally driven, they may be prone to react in exaggerated ways. Hence, a conflict with a teacher, a clash with a friend or an unanswered text can feel like the end of the world. By strengthening their cognitive empathy, teens can develop an emotional pause button, which reminds them that even when feelings take over, stressful circumstances are temporary.
more on empathy in this IMS blog