• Alex Jarvis

Emotional Intelligence in Teens

In our recent article, we discussed that emotional intelligence is a key indicator of a teen's success in life –both in the present and the future. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to understand your emotions and respond to them effectively. It's also the ability to bounce back after hitting a low point (e.g. setback, rejection, failure).

To better understand and navigate through our emotions more effectively, here are the 5 foundational components of emotions to remember:

  1. Emotional self-awareness (naming, recognizing, understanding the cause of your feelings),

  2. Handling emotions appropriately (instead of "acting-out" negatively, demonstrate effective options for upsetting feelings),

  3. Self-motivation (ability to plan, think, & solve problems by employing frustration tolerance, impulse control, and delayed gratification to attain a certain goal),

  4. Empathy (recognizing & understanding emotions in others),

  5. Social skills (ability to handle emotions in relationships & interact with others harmoniously).

Daniel Goleman (psychologist, science journalist, author) introduces emotional intelligence and how to build EQ skills. He also briefly explains Emotional intelligence at work: Why IQ isn't everything once a person enters the workforce.

Physical Signs of Emotions

While it may take awhile for the mind to consciously acknowledge emotions, somatic symptoms already occur. Our bodies detect onset of these emotions in the form of bodily sensations. A few examples of somatic symptoms that show you might be carrying an emotion are:

§ Stress: hands sweating, nausea, headaches, heart racing, tightness in the throat, tight chest, dry mouth, dizziness

§ Sadness: exhaustion, difficulty eating, crying

§ Guilt: neck pain

§ Anger: clenching fists, clenching jaw, tightness in shoulders

§ Shame & Humiliation: heaviness in the chest

§ Worry: heart racing, hand sweating, tightness in the throat

Although these vary for every person, the connection between emotions and physical sensations is usually something new for clients coming to therapy. Our body can often tell us quicker what we’re feeling even before we're aware of the emotion.

EQ: Continual Development Process

Let's not be hard on ourselves as adults –and let's be easy on teens especially. Emotional intelligence is a work in progress (i.e. it’s learned & learnable). It’s something that develops as we're getting older. Some skills comprising emotional intelligence develop earlier and are easier to learn, while others develop later and are harder to practice. The part of the brain responsible for emotion management continues to mature beyond teen years. Since our brain is a muscle, steady practice helps those brain pathways to develop.

To shed light on "Emotional Intelligence from a Teenage Perspective", Maximilian Park discusses his personal experience with emotional intelligence, the change it brought to his life, and the effect it can have on teens around the country. He proposes that implementing regular emotional intelligence & skills development classes in a safe learning environment contribute much to young people becoming better and healthier.

Also, allowing yourself to accept help from friends, family, and mental health professionals, such as JarvisHypnotherapy, helps handle overwhelming emotions.

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