Adolescence is the time of one's life when emotional development is at its peak and is often marked by high emotional sensitivity. As a child matures to become an adolescent, his/her emotional experience and expression undergo many changes in response to the changing environmental interactions. Increase in academic pressures, developmental challenges, bodily changes, conflicts over independence, changing relationships with parents and peers, etc., become the prime causes of emotional problems in adolescents.
Such changes are also essential for the social and emotional development of adolescents as they embark the journey towards adulthood, forming their own independent identity during this phase of their development. Emotional Management, thus, is a crucial skill to develop during adolescence, for it to become a part of an individual's identity as a teenager and personality as an adult.
Parents play the most important role (through example and instruction) in helping their adolescent learn to manage emotions in effective ways. Some significant points to keep in mind are:
Modelling appropriate behaviour is much more important than instructing it. Parents need to model ways of expressing negative emotions such as anger, disappointment, etc., in a safe, reasonable and assertive manner, without using aggression as a way to emote.
Being cautious about not using emotions as negotiation or manipulation tools, even between the parents.
Helping the adolescent develop skills of emotional management, including being aware of one's emotional state, being able to understand others' emotions, and being able to express emotions in appropriate ways.
Discussing the importance of having empathy for others, at the same time, differentiating it with sympathy, and establishing the need to empathize not sympathize with others.
Encouraging the adolescent to understand that one's emotional-expressive behavior impacts others, and the need to be sensitive in the way one presents himself/herself.
Training the adolescent to manage stress in effective ways, to be able to cope with distressing emotions.
Having emotional stability and self-control, and the ability to be expressive and assertive about one's feelings are important skills to cultivate in adolescence, when one is faced with many emotional fluctuations and stressful situations, to be able to develop a healthy and emotionally stable identity.
"When you react, you let other control you. When you respond, you are in control." - Bohdi Sanders