NMK - Academic Coaching and Communication - Approaches to Teach Impulsive Youth Compassion

Approaches to Teach Impulsive Youth Compassion

Youngsters who show violent or impulsive behavior share one common characteristic: they lack emotional intelligence. Namely, these teens lack two essential qualities of emotional intelligence: self-control and compassion.

In their article “Teaching Emotional Intelligence to Impulsive-Aggressive Youth”, Henley & Long (1999) firstly explained that impulsive-aggressive youth exhibit four types of cognitive deficiencies that guide their actions. Additionally, these deficits “Serve as “character armor" to protect them from the slings and arrows of their own irresponsible behavior.”

The four deficiencies are:

  1. In the first place, impulsive youngsters have little or no guilt about their behavior, and usually assume the role of the victim. They hence are not motivated to change that behavior.
  2. In the second place, they lack normal feelings of compassion toward others, and they justify it by externalizing their sense of responsibility.
  3. Additionally, they are self-centered and focus on their needs, narcissistic, and rigidly proud.
  4. Lastly, these young adults believe personal aggression creates power and status.

Having explained this problems, how can teachers, advisors, and coaches teach impulsive youth compassion via emotional intelligence?

Before conducting any trial, instructors must bear in mind that “impulsive-aggressive students will resist imposed change.” Therefore, teachers must create a classroom environment which “reflects a belief that students carry the seeds for change within themselves.” One approach can be building the youngsters’ strengths rather than fixing their flaws.

The authors further by giving examples on the successful programs adopted by a few institutions. These approaches “taught youth through cooperation rather than compliance”.

The Capital Offender Program

This program uses psychodrama and role playing to teach empathy to youngsters convicted of rape and murder.

The Child Development Project

Teachers the Child Development Project teach children responsible behavior and ways to care for one another and help each other while they learn.

Mainly, typical programs work on respecting the resourcefulness of young adults. They moreover involve them in the decisions about how they will learn, and offer them opportunities to make classroom decisions and state them out loud. All of this not only empower learners, but encourage them to “listen and accept their peers’ points of view” too. Sharing ideas and reviewing options establishes cognitive dissonance.

Other few approaches suggested by the researchers to teach impulsive youth compassion may include as well:

  • Rely more on cooperative learning
  • Allow for more brainstorming experiences to “teach students to listen and build on each other’s ideas”
  • Work on role playing which aids impulsive youth frame a problem from several viewpoints
  • Try peer tutoring which allows violent/impulsive youngsters to help others
  • Use children literature. They can “provide opportunities for thinking through problems while learning from real and fictional role models.”


Henley, M., & Long, N. J. (1999). Teaching emotional intelligence to impulsive-aggressive youth. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 7(4), 224. Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/teaching-emotional-intelligence-impulsive/docview/214195737/se-2?accountid=28281

Share with us your thoughts and don't forget to check out our Brain Unfolded course!

Also, follow us on social media

Facebook: Dr. Nadine Mounzer Karam
Instagram: @dr.nadinemounzerkaram
Twitter: @dr_nadinemk
TikTok: @nadinemounzerkaram
LinkedIn: Dr. Nadine Mounzer Karam

YouTube Channel: Nadine Mounzer Karam

And Stay Tuned!

NMK - Academic Coaching and Communication

NMK - Academic Coaching and Communication - Approaches to Teach Impulsive Youth Compassion