Emotional intelligence translates to emotional maturity, which includes how much we consider the feelings of others before we speak and act. There are four levels to emotional intelligence: perceiving emotions, reasoning with emotions, understanding emotions and managing emotions. Having high emotional intelligence means that you are able to more accurately read, reason, understand and manage the emotions of yourself and others. Emotional intelligence helps teens to develop positive relationships, do well at school and develop a well-balanced outlook on life.
While some argue that having high emotional intelligence is an inborn characteristic, studies show that it is possible to increase emotional intelligence in the short and long term. This means that even if your teen does not exhibit high emotional intelligence now, they are still able to learn and develop these skills for later in life.
If your teen lacks emotional intelligence, they will have a hard time knowing when they are stressed. If you notice their stress levels rise, point it out to them in a respectful way. Having someone tell them when they are stressed and encouraging them to discuss the emotions they feel will help your teen distinguish and connect these emotions the next time they feel stressed. This is also an opportunity to teach them how to both recognize and work through their emotions in a healthy manner, perhaps through breathing exercises or physical activity.
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In order to foster emotional intelligence in your teen, encourage them to learn how to resolve conflicts instead of acting out and getting themselves in trouble. This step will require trust, listening and good communication. Help them understand that almost all conflicts can be resolved, it just takes time and patience! Living in the present and not holding onto grudge will help them move through the conflicts they face.
Being able to connect with another person without speaking is a beneficial skill to have. Whether it’s eye contact, body language or awareness of nonverbal cues, all nonverbal communication requires being in the present moment and focussing on the other person. This skill will allow your teen to be receptive to those around them—and to themselves.
Having high emotional intelligence allows us to connect with others in a positive and healthy way. To foster emotional intelligence in your teen, continue to encourage the reading, reasoning, understanding and managing of their emotions.
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