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EQ in Teens

A Tool for Success in the Real World

Do you have a bright teen child who nonetheless struggles in school or experiences difficulty socially? Their IQ and exam scores probably aren't to blame. Child education psychologists agree that emotional intelligence (i.e. EQ) bears more impact on your teen's success –both now and in the future.

Emotional intelligence is one's ability to:

- recognize both people's emotions and your own,

- interpret and regulate emotions, and

- manage other's emotions.

Daniel Goleman in his book "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ" says: This means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively), and learning how to manage those emotions –both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure."

IQ, on one hand, measures short term memory, spatial recognition, mathematical ability, and analytical thinking. Just as a good IQ can predict good test scores, a high EQ can predict success in emotional and social situations. Emotional intelligence gives one the framework to make sound decisions, build strong relationships, and deal with hard situations.

In working with teens in the counseling space, a significant amount of it has to do with identifying and recognizing emotions and building "emotions vocabulary". Teens are often uncomfortable naming and voicing their emotions, hence the "feeling chart" can aid them in recognizing a spectrum of feelings that they’re having. Doing this exercise in sessions help teens build their “emotions vocabulary” –for themselves and others.

Peter Salovey, John Mayer, and Daniel Goleman present five components of emotional intelligence:

1. Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your emotions, limitations, strengths, and actions, as well as how these affect others.

2. Self-regulation is the ability to show (and restrain) emotions depending on the situation.

3. Motivation is the ability to enjoy what you're doing and work towards hitting your goals.

4. Empathy is the ability to recognize and understand others' emotions.

5. Social skill is the ability to manage relationships.

Although clients may not specifically ask counseling services for their EQ, it is in fact a major element in mental health issues that stem from repressed emotions. Hence, for clients who come to therapy for emotional regulation skills, panic attacks, anger management, anxiety, depression, etc. the first phase of helping them is emotional awareness.

Typically, anxiety and depression are common mental health disorders that develop in part from having low emotional intelligence.

As a parent, you can help your teen develop their EQ. Your child is never too old, and it is never too late for you, to begin talking with them, listening to their responses, asking them sensitive questions, and offering gentle guidance. Compared to toddlers and younger kids, teens often get lesser physical touch and one-on-one intimate talks with their parents. Although teens are good at hiding it, they do crave parenting.

To help your teen boost their EQ, take a look at the 5 components above and use them as reference when observing your child's behavior. Did they have extreme emotional response when they didn't get what they wanted? Did they fail to notice that you were very tired &stressed after dinner when they came with all their demands? Take such moments as teaching opportunities: offer them a different perspective and give a different way in handling/looking at the situation. Instead of telling them exactly how to behave, ask instead what they felt, noticed, or wanted. By patiently pointing out new ways to understand and react, you’re giving your teen an opportunity to learn and practice a new skill.

To reinforce these behaviors, offer genuine praises when they are exceptionally kind, flexible, patient, communicative, or intuitive about another's feelings. Ever gradually, your bright teen child can grow into an emotionally intelligent individual.

If your teen (or someone you know) is struggling with emotional regulation, anger management, panic attacks or anxiety, JarvisHypnotherapy mental health professionals can help. Contact us today.

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