Building Social Awareness

Help teens develop greater social awareness.

3 teens smiling and hugging

Recognizing that difference in the opinions of others does not mean that one person is necessarily right or wrong; it is a matter of perspective. We should always strive to respect the differences of others, but allow ourselves to be true to who we are as well.

How to be helpful in demonstrating social awareness of yourself and others.

  • Help individuals influence healthy social interactions. Identify both verbal and non-verbal social habits that can be expressed through face, body, voice, and motion.
  • Challenge individuals to be open-minded to another’s perspective. Emphasize that individual experiences can result in differing ideas and opinions.
  • Own your individual thoughts and opinions, even if they are different from others. Examine influences that may shape your thoughts and opinions.
  • Remind individuals of the impact our words can have on other people.
  • Emphasize that appreciation not only includes our words but also includes a heartfelt gesture or expression.
  • Recognize strengths in others and the value of their contributions.
  • Respect various cultures and appreciate the values that shape them, even if they are different than what we are accustomed to.

Connecting social awareness to empathy

One of the most important skills you can learn to improve your social awareness is to develop empathy. Here are a few tips for encouraging youth to be empathetic towards others:

  • Emphasize the importance of having youth think about other possible perspectives that others may have that may even be different from their own.
    • Model how to put yourself in “another’s shoes.” Listen to what is being said, not necessarily to fix or to provide solutions.
    • Teach that it is important that you acknowledge that you heard what is stated.
    • Avoid making assumptions.
    • Educate the difference between empathy and sympathy.
  • Find opportunities to dialogue empathy. Share real-life situations. Perhaps this can even be done while reading a story or watching a movie and identifying with a character.
  • Provide encouragement when youth model or show empathy towards other people.
  • Demonstrate empathy as a positive role model. Let youth see your concern for others’ well-being.
  • Ask youth how it feels when they find a social connection with others when they show empathy and concern.
  • Discuss the importance of how to keep empathy and self-care in balance. Encourage ongoing conversations and check in with youth about their experiences with this process.

Help your teens practice social awareness. 

  • Think of people that would benefit from having something positive.
  • Brainstorm ideas or gestures that would be considered positive to someone else.
  • Decide on one thing that could be done each day that would provide a positive experience for someone else. This could be a different person each day!
  • Determine and discuss the internal benefit of planning something positive for others.

Read more about building social awareness with your teen