New Year’s Resolutions for Teens that Build Empathy

Resolutions are notorious for being left behind a few weeks or months into the new year. That is often because the goals we set for ourselves are self-critical. They are generally focused on changing an unfavorable aspect of our lives or behaviors rather than a celebration of positivity and appreciation. Especially for teens, who are already stressed about setting and achieving new goals, it can be very beneficial to support resolutions that encourage how far they have already come. So this holiday season, no matter what your goals are, we urge you and your teens to include a few that build empathy for yourself and others. 

Inward Compassion

The most important thing for your teen to focus on first is to find empathy towards themselves. Encourage your teen to set intentions this year to practice mental health activities, that can include meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, and connecting with others. Offer to set a joint goal together where you each take time for mindful moments and self reflection. Set appointments for  weekly check-ins, make this special by creating a ritual around it, like heading somewhere outside, or sharing a meal together. Working together can make it feel more approachable for your teen to practice self-care. 

For a solo activity, suggest that your teen write one thing down a day on a mirror, a sticky note, or in a text that they appreciate about themself. Have them keep it somewhere they can keep finding it throughout the day! Create some for yourself to lead by example.

Outward Compassion

When your teen practices empathy inwardly, they are more equipped to find empathy for others. Being consciously grateful each day for the people around us is truly important for living a happy, healthy life. Whether it is friends, teachers, grandparents, or you they are thankful for, encourage meaningful resolutions that share with others in small ways how much someone means to them.

Consider their preferred method of showing love or care and support them in using it in appropriate ways to offer empathy to others. Maybe they want to make a goal to compliment at least one person each day, maybe they offer to volunteer somewhere, or maybe they challenge themselves and help someone they otherwise would not consider doing so. However they show it, big or small, offering empathy to others will make not only the recipients of this act happy, but it will elevate your teens mood! 

Healthy Mentality

A New Year’s resolution for teens that we all can learn from is challenging unhealthy thoughts and behaviors to replace them with new, positive ones. This means resetting unproductive mindsets and finding a positive perspective. Consider all of the things you get down on yourself about and know that your teen could have as many or more things that are concerning them. 

Set goals with your teen for the new year surrounding their mindset. Encourage them to pick a new theme each month of the year to work on. It could be ways to support themselves or others! Maybe January they want to work on planning, February they might want to take daily walks, March could be cutting back on sugar. Instead of framing goals as how they want to change themselves, a healthier resolution looks like seeking ways to better take care of their minds and bodies.

Reducing Stigma

This upcoming year, a goal for the whole family should be to work towards reducing stigma surrounding reaching out for help. Show your teen that you are there for their mental health, without judgment, in any way they might need. Show your teen that you are okay with seeking out resources and support them and the other members of your family to do so, too. 

Think of the things that have helped you in your life, and if your teen comes to you, encourage them to use those same tools, or offer to help them find tools that are a better fit for them. Be prepared to provide teen mental health resources that can help them find help in a positive, productive, healthy way.

At Tilly’s Life Center, we believe that reframing New Year’s resolutions for teens to focus on the positive aspects of their lives, setting goals that encourage the beauty in how far they have already come, and appreciating the ability to grow internally is a leap in the right direction for the new year. Our mission is to support young people in their efforts to live up to their potential as strong, happy, and productive individuals by providing teen mental health resources. To learn more, visit We wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy new year!