Helping Teens Learn Emotion Regulation Skills

It’s a typical scenario. Your teenager gets home from school, and they’re in a bad mood. When you try to talk to them, they ignore you or roll their eyes. All of your comments are answered with a snippy retort. Even though you weren’t around them at all today, it’s like they’re blaming you for their bad day.

Teens are known for being moody, but teenagers need to learn how to manage their emotions. Even if they’ve had a bad day, they need to be able to keep their emotions in check, so they don’t take it out on everyone around them. This skill doesn’t come easily to everyone, so you might need to help your teen learn some emotion regulation skills.

Some teens have an exceptionally difficult time managing their emotions. Even when they try to keep their emotions under control, their impulses get the better of them. If your teen son has emotional outbursts that get him in trouble at home or school, he might benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school.

What are emotional regulation skills?

We all experience negative emotions. We might feel sad, angry, embarrassed, betrayed, lonely, or a plethora of other emotions. When people experience negative emotions, they tend to act on them. Unfortunately, negative emotions often lead to negative actions.

As a parent, we start seeing this play out from the time our children are little. They get mad when we tell them “no,” so they throw their toy. They feel sad when we won’t let them do something they want to do, so they go pout in a corner. They express their inner feelings in the only way they know-how.

While kids are growing up, they need to learn to regulate their emotions. Not only should they stop throwing things when they’re angry, but they should learn how to calm the anger as well. Learning to self-soothe and handle emotions is a sign of maturity that many teens lack. It’s not that they mean to act out. It’s that they haven’t learned the appropriate skill set yet.

Emotional regulation skills for teens

When you start teaching your teen how to regulate their emotions, you can expect it to be difficult at first. They will test your patience, and they will learn from your response.

It is of utmost importance that you reliably demonstrate the skills that you want your teenager to learn. Otherwise, it turns into a case of, “Do what I say, not what I do.”

Acknowledge their feelings

A lot of teens struggle with acknowledging their feelings. They don’t like talking about their feelings, and they don’t want to seem vulnerable. It’s a lot easier to pretend that bad feelings don’t exist than to deal with them.

Encourage your teen to acknowledge their feelings. They are not immune to having feelings or getting their feelings hurt. If your teen has a limited vocabulary to describe their feelings, they might need to learn more words that describe emotions.

Identify what they physically feel

Once your teen can identify an emotion when it’s happening, help them learn to identify how it makes them feel physically.

  1. Do they feel hot?

  2. Are they tense?

  3. Are their thoughts racing?

  4. Do they feel tired?

Once they can identify how they feel physically, they can connect physical feelings and emotions. For example, they might notice that they start to feel jittery when worried about their friends. Or they might feel tense when they’re angry. This is a big step to regulating their emotions and controlling their actions.

Find the root emotion

Sometimes, our emotions go deeper than we initially think they do. Figuring out the root of emotion can take a little digging. When your teen acts out, help them identify the original emotion and look further into the root emotion.

For example, your teen might say they’re angry because you keep trying to talk to them about their day. In reality, they might be sad that a friend snubbed them at school, and they don’t want to talk to you about it.

It’s not that you’re trying to talk to them; it’s that their friend hurt their feelings at school and they feel rejected.

Use positive coping skills

Throughout life, your kid is going to experience some negative emotions. They need to learn what to do to get their emotions in check to continue with their day. Positive coping skills help people calm down when they’re upset and regulate their emotions in the moment.

Positive coping skills include things like:

  1. Exercising to burn excess energy

  2. Taking a nap to re-energize

  3. Playing music or creating art to channel feelings

  4. Going for a walk to calm down

  5. Petting a dog or cat to feel happy

Help your teen learn various positive coping skills that they can use in different settings. They might be able to pet the family dog or cat at home, but that won’t be an option at school. It’s important to have emotional regulation skills for every situation.

At Sundance Canyon Academy, our students learn to understand and accept their emotions. Students learn emotional regulation skills that they can use at home, at school, and in social settings. Emotions play a major role in adult life, so teens must learn to manage their emotions before reaching adulthood.

Contact us today to find out if our school is a good fit for your teen son.

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