Has your teenager been increasingly getting agitated and angry and uncomfortable to be around? Are friendships that he or she had for years falling apart? Is your son or daughter having trouble making new friends? Many parents wonder if it’s normal behavior for this stage of life or time to get additional support. To start, there are a couple of ways to help determine if your child has a problem that needs to be addressed.
1. Does he or she start to get dizzy, nauseous, an increased heart rate, breathless or start to sweat when angry?
2. Are you starting to notice an in increase in depression, anxiety, stress or guilt when he or she is angry?
3. Does the angry behavior seem to be happening more and more frequently?
4. Is the anger causing behavior that is violent or emotionally uncontrollable?
5. Are the feelings causing problems at school or in their relationships with friends and family?
If you answered yes to most of these questions than it’s most likely time to seek professional advice. One aspect of your child’s behavioral issues to think about is their level of social awareness. Many psychologists agree that increasing a person’s level of Emotional Intelligence starting in their teen years can help them to better handle situations that cause them to get angry and ultimately become more successful in every aspect of their life. In fact, an individual’s EQ can be more important than their IQ for general happiness in life.
So what is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Basically it’s your ability to recognize, understand, manage and control your own feelings and responses. Some people just seem to be naturally programmed with people skills, but for others, it can be learned and improved upon through books or classes and by observing appropriate role models. Parents can help their teens to better navigate life by helping them to learn these skills.
People with a high EQ exhibit the following traits:
1. Self-awareness. They are in touch with how they feel. For example, they can easily identify when they are irritated, concerned or grateful for something.
2. Possess empathy. Because they understand their own feelings, it helps them to understand how others feel and why they feel the way do. It helps to build strong relationships and deal with others.
3. Self control. These individuals know how to react appropriately in the right place and at the right time. They understand that if they are disrespectful, violent, loud or too intense it can be harmful to their relationships with others.
4. Mood adaptation. They are able to overcome angry or bad feelings during difficult situations and control them by getting into a better frame of mind.
To help your child learn how to become a more adaptable, understanding and people-smart type of person, you can work at home by role modeling the behavior. Listen to your child with empathy and validate their feelings. Explain the way they should have handled the situation and set limits with consequences. For example, “We understand that you are mad because you can’t find your favorite Xbox game, but it’s not okay to tear your brother’s room apart looking for it.” Explore possible realistic solutions together. What could he have done instead? Why was messing up his brother’s room a poor choice? The more discussion, the more the child becomes of aware of how his behavior impacts others and how to alter it in an effective way. You can teach them these life skills!