3 Ways to Encourage Empathy and Reduce Drama

3 Ways to Encourage Empathy and Reduce Drama
Two beautiful african american girls smiling, looking at camera. Sisters posing on blue background. Studio shot.

What is it with teen girls? Why are teen girls always enthralled in drama-real or imagined? I know that if you’ve got a youth group, are a mentor, or even teaching a class, you’ve asked one or both of these questions. Most of the young ladies I mentor are friends one moment and ignoring one another the next, but that’s when it’s easy. It’s much more difficult when they’re engaged in a fight on Snapchat or contemplating ways to get even with the other girl. If you’re like me, you can’t just talk about the problem, you’ve got to find a solution-if there is one…

Empathy is our ability to share another person’s feelings, and I think it’s missing more than ever among young people right now. The use of social media is directly related to the growing number of young people who’ve been desensitized to harsh issues, such as poverty, death, and, yes, drama-especially now that there’s the opportunity to bully others easily through the use of social media. The use of social media has also impacted our preoccupation with ourselves, lessening our ability to express concern for others. Is there a solution that will help us to decrease the amount of drama among the young ladies we serve? One solution I’d like to recommend is empathy.

Developing empathy for others demonstrates higher level thinking by leading us to consider opinions that are unlike our own. Regardless of if a teen chooses to adopt a different opinion or not, empathy opens communication up between the two parties. Advocating appropriately for themselves is a skill all of our future female leaders need to acquire, but it is ineffective if not accompanied by the ability to listen and respond accordingly-in conversation. Developing empathy can lead tweens and teens who are engaged in a conflict to share their points of view with one another and influence the conclusion positively. Trust me.

Once you recognize that it is essential to help young ladies develop empathy, you may be at a loss as to how to move forward. Don’t be! Service projects, role playing activities, and great books can all help you in your quest.

  1. Try introducing your group to service projects where they can spend time with people who have different life experiences than themselves. Lead them to conduct conversations with those whom they are serving and those they are serving with, and, then, follow up with a group discussion of your own about what they noticed.
  2. As a leader, you could also engage the youth in role playing, assigning various parts to encourage the teens to work through a conflict.
  3. One Chanceto Live Young: The First Colorfully Candid Diary is an excellent book to explore empathy with tween and teen girls alike. The three main characters provide an insight into their private thoughts through the chapters that are written as journal entries. Even though London, Meschell, and Anya witness many of the same events, they develop differing opinions and impressions, based upon their individual upbringings.

Wherever you choose to start: through a service project, role playing activity, or opening a good book, remember to keep the conversations going to probe your mentees’ thinking further. Have fun!

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