Teaching your son to think of others can be a daunting task. Teenagers can be very self-focused. They have a lot on their minds, including social status, relationships, puberty, assessments, examinations and friends.
Learning to think of others, rather than himself, can have a profound impact on your son’s life and relationships. Key to this is having healthy relationships that are built on respect, trust and empathy – the ability to understand and feel the emotions of others.
Collossians 3:12-14 offers a simple way to approach relationships: “… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
To make the task of imparting knowledge and understanding less daunting, we offer five tips for teaching your son to think of others.
1. Show empathy and compassion
Empathy is a critical skill and shouldn’t be underestimated. To assist your son in developing empathy and compassion for those around him, open his eyes to the world. Broaden his horizons and encourage him to take note of current and global events. Talk things through and look at the different angles of a problem and how others may be affected and what they may be feeling.
2. Be thankful and appreciative
Teach your son how to say thank you. People who are grateful have the ability to look outside their one-dimensional universe. They understand that others do things for them, care for them and think about them. A study at the University of California showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism, along with lower levels of depression and stress. Encourage your son to have an attitude of gratitude and talk about the things he appreciates each day.
3. Be thoughtful and show your son that you care
Our children learn from what they see. If your son sees your caring actions towards others, it will become second nature for him. Show him how to be thoughtful by taking him through the process, step by step. Another important step in teaching your son to care is by caring for him. Show him that you care by supporting his decisions, praising him for his successes and helping him when he is in need.
4. Recognise kindness
Teach your son to recognise kindness. If a peer helps him with homework; when a friend gives him positive feedback; or if a mate offers support when he is feeling down, remind your son that those actions are acts of kindness. They are examples of people thinking about him and acting on their thoughts. Encourage your son to think about how he feels receiving such acts of kindness.
5. Make caring a priority
Above all, make caring for others a priority. Praise your son for thinking of others like you would praise him for achieving high grades or winning his soccer game. Learning to think of others is like learning how to play a sport, it takes practise, persistence and encouragement.
R U OK? Day is on 14 September 2017. A Day dedicated to inspiring and empowering people to meaningfully connect with those around them and support anyone struggling with life. It is all about thinking of others. With such an important day around the corner, we encourage you to think of your loved ones and ask, “R U OK?”
Trinity’s Pastoral Care guidelines focus on the fundamentals of good parenting enabling boys to grow into caring, self-confident, resilient young men. Our Life Skills Programme is part of a whole of School approach to health and well-being that enhances our boys’ capacity to be emotionally resilient and socially competent.
To learn more about the Trinity difference, and how you can support your son, download our Year 7 Pastoral Care and Life Skills information.