Boys and adolescents often have a bad reputation, probably due to their impetuousness, lack of points of reference, changes in their bodies, but this does not detract from the fact that they are capable of kindness and empathy.
The first step to fight bullying is to give them more serenity and make empathy the leitmotif of their lives.
Acts of kindness have a positive impact, not only on the recipients, but also on the people around us, producing a knock-on effect.
To understand how teenagers show kindness, a study of 191 pupils was carried out, in which students were asked to plan and complete five acts of kindness.
In addition to planning and performing acts of kindness, participants were asked to evaluate their kindness face-to-face and online, to report the number of acts of kindness performed, to identify the recipients of their acts and to evaluate the quality of their acts.
In the post-test, participants’ self-assessments of both face-to-face and online kindness were significantly higher than the pre-test assessments.
Only one third of the participants completed all their acts of kindness, most of the participants chose other family members as recipients, and most of the participants assessed their average quality on a medium-low to medium-high scale.
The acts of kindness performed by the participants reflected the themes of help with household chores, respect, compliments and encouragement to others, and the gift of objects or money.
Doing acts of kindness creates a pattern of behaviour in children and adolescents, they see the world through a kind lens and look for opportunities to be kind; the knock-on effect is the idea that the recipient of kindness has a greater propensity, in turn, to do more kindness.
The pandemic is not the only crisis that has inspired greater awareness in adolescents.
A survey by the Royal Society of Chemistry, conducted in February, found that more than half of young people between the ages of 15 and 18 consider the climate crisis to be the biggest problem facing the world today.
How to encourage kindness in adolescents:
Positive behaviour model
Think of ways you can perform random acts of kindness yourself so that the teenagers with whom you are in relationship can see the benefits.
Create a space for reflection
Ask teenagers the last time someone was nice to them and how it made them feel. Reflecting on this can help inspire them to repay it.
Make sure that teenagers know that it is right not to do things perfectly the first time and that small acts of kindness add up as they may be trepid at first.
If teenagers near you are short of ideas, there are many organisations that offer volunteer opportunities to young people.
Respect for other living beings, whether they are people or animals, is essential to create empathy, and to teach that every form of life has its value.