Being a teenager can be really hard sometimes. There are so many pressures facing them every day including school, friends, family, extracurriculars and even the changes taking place in their bodies. It’s important that your teen develops positive and healthy strategies for expressing the emotions they feel. Luckily, there are ways that you can support them and tips you can provide.
Teach Them to Name Their Feelings
Before your teens can learn how to express their feelings well, they first need to understand what exactly it is that they are feeling. In your own conversations with them, start by naming your own feelings. For example, be clear by saying “I feel frustrated,” or “I feel tired,” or “I feel excited.” This sets a positive example for your teen, and you can encourage them to the same. If they are unsure of how they feel, try asking questions and offering suggestions. Don’t tell them how they feel, but try to get them to name the feeling themselves.
Make Time for Conversation and Check-Ins
Your teen will have a hard time expressing their emotions if they don’t feel like they have a safe platform to do so. Be sure to make time for regular conversation and check-ins with your teen. This can be as straightforward as making use of the car ride to and from soccer practice or encouraging conversation around the dinner table. Ask specific questions about their day to open up the conversation and be willing to share about yours as well. Create a safe and non-judgemental space that your teen can practice expressing their emotions in.
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One Step Further
Beyond simply stating emotions, help your teen to develop positive skills for expressing and coping with emotions. Are they excited? Help them find a way to channel this positive energy. Are they stressed? Help them to develop positive skills around handling stress. This is another area in which you can act as a positive role model by sharing with them your feelings and your corresponding actions. For example: “I’m feeling anxious about everything I need to get done so I’m going to make a to-do list” or “I’m feeling frustrated with our conversation so I’m going to go for a walk.”
Above all else, don’t forget that you are your teen’s primary role model when it comes to learning how to express emotions. You have the opportunity to teach them positive ways of understanding and showing their feelings, so take the time to do so.
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