TEACHING TEENS TO MANAGE THEIR STRONG EMOTIONS
Being an adolescent comes with many challenges, as adults most of us would like to avoid going back to that lane. Parents often find it difficult to react to their teens when they hit the roof for no reason. We should remember that this phase in life is hard to manage with physical, emotional and life changes all taking place at once.
During this teen phase the brain develops at a rapid pace, this puts the limbic system responsible for emotional response into fight, flight, or freeze modes; in such circumstances the brain makes functions like reason, logic and moral judgment difficult. Besides these changes teenagers have to deal with trauma, anxiety, depression, peer pressure and bullies. With all the functions mentioned above, one of the most important processes the teens deal with is self-discovery.
What can parents do?
Managing adolescence requires effective parenting skills; there are many opportunities where a parent can learn them. Some effective strategies that parents can use to teach their children emotional management include:
∙ Suspend judgement and listen to your teen:
Parents sometimes assume they can handle the situation in a particular way but they should remember the time differs from when they were an adolescent. Never view the emotion the teen displays as negative, bad or good. Parents need to step back and respond with compassion; this will create an opportunity for the teens to come back to you when they have an emotional turmoil. Parents also need to express to their teens that each emotion has a reaction.
∙ Pay attention to your own emotions:
Before responding to your teen calm yourself, take a minute or tell your child you need some time to think about it or tell them you are upset and will talk later. This will give both you and your teen to think about it. Never forget to address the topic after you’ve had your time to think.
∙ Acknowledge their feeling:
Empathising with their feelings and acknowledging gives them a safe space to practice and manage their emotions positively under your supervision.
∙ Provide choices:
When you have discussed emotions and have concluded, always provide choices and limits to their choices. Be willing to negotiate if the situation changes and always prioritise the wellbeing of your teen in the situation.
How to teach emotions management?
Managing feelings is one of the most important things that we learn as humans. Expression of the emotions and reaction to emotions makes us different from others. Some techniques you can teach your teen includes:
∙ Familiarising with feeling:
For your teen to understand their feelings, it is important to pay attention to them throughout the day. Let your teen note down the feeling they have throughout the day on their mobiles or a paper, next to each feeling write the situation and the changes they felt to better express emotions.
∙ Giving feeling names:
Identifying the emotions they are experiencing is important; doing so will give them a better chance to manage it. The feelings can be happy, sad, angry, anxiety, excitement, and embarrassment.
∙ Expressing feelings:
To release the feelings it is better to express them. Sharing the feeling with someone they trust or writing it down or praying to god will help them and without bringing harm to them or others around them.
∙ Accepting the emotions:
It is ok to feel ______. For instance angry, disappointed, excited or happy. Many make mistakes by suppressing their feelings, thinking they will go away whereas it is the opposite.
It is healthier to express the feelings in a protected place.
∙ Teaching a healthy way:
A healthy way of managing feelings can be various while for some it can be a hug or a meaningful conversation, for others it might help with some other activities like swimming, exercising, drawing, playing musical instruments, singing or writing.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that we all are human beings and having emotions is a part of growing up. Yes, we make mistakes, but equipping yourself with helpful skills can help you overcome the challenges. Managing emotions with compassion and maturity will help us build a better relationship with family, friends, community and the world. As parents and as teenagers it is necessary to go easy on oneself.