Teaching Teens Healthy Emotional Regulation

Emotions are a fact of life. And life has a way of presenting situations that trigger emotions to spiral out-of-control. When that happens, we are prone to do and say things we later regret. However, when we develop the skills to handle our emotions, we are able to become much stronger and healthier contributors to the world. Teen addiction is often a symptom of emotions spiraling out of control, which is why it’s important to help adolescents and teens learn how to self-regulate.

What Is Emotional Regulation?

Emotional regulation involves recognizing emotions and developing positive ways to deal with them. Let’s say a teen boy feels rejected by his peers at school. In the past, he resorted to angry fist fights, which then led to some broken noses and windows and detentions, or he drank himself into a stupor to escape. Emotional awareness will help him identify his triggers, thought processes, and emotional responses, as well as the methods he uses to cope with the situation. From there, he can then begin to identify methods for redirecting his thoughts and emotions.

How Can Parents Teach Emotional Regulation?

First, parents, teachers, and other mentors should model healthy emotional regulation. Teens learn by watching adults. If adults are modeling healthy responses, teens will feel more motivation to develop healthy responses themselves.

Adults can also coach teens through strategies for dealing with strong emotions. Here are some ideas:

  • spending time with friends. Some teens will need to talk out their feelings while others may prefer engaging in an activity with their friends.
  • exercising. Exercise can help to clear the mind and develop focus on a goal. Perhaps a teen can channel his anger into an intense workout at the boxing gym or try out for the soccer team.
  • sleeping. A good night of sleep or a well-placed nap can do wonders for a teen’s mental state.
  • creating. Engaging in creative activities has a therapeutic effect. Encourage your teen to engage in a favorite creative activity, such as music, painting, writing, or making things. Sometimes the angst will work itself out in the middle of an old car restoration.
  • journaling. Writing out their feelings or writing out dreams for the future can also be extremely therapeutic.
  • serving. Helping a granny with yard cleanup or volunteering at the local shelter will help a teen feel like he or she is contributing to the general welfare of mankind and will build a value for service in the future.
  • therapy. Sometimes, a teen needs professional assistance to work through emotional triggers and responses. If addiction is involved, a teen rehab treatment center is the best option, offering a whole-person, teen-focused approach.

As teens learn how to process their emotions and develop outlets for healthy expression, they will be more ready to face the ups and downs of life. Emotional regulation is a necessary skill, and the younger a person is when they learn it, the easier it will be to learn.