As parents, we sometimes believe that we have to protect our children from our own worries and emotions. And while there are certain things that adults need to deal with and adolescents don’t, it is important for children to understand that their parents have feelings too. Parents with strong emotional intelligence can communicate their feelings effectively and they can pass those skills on to their children.
What is Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence includes: emotional awareness (the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions), the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving, and the ability to manage emotions (regulating one’s own emotions and helping others do the same).
While there is not a scale that accurately measures emotional intelligence, many parents can look at the attributes of emotional intelligence to gauge whether or not their child has these skills. Children learn emotional intelligence through parental interactions. When parents acknowledge and validate their own emotions, as well as the emotions of their child, children learn to tolerate strong emotions and develop that self-control and problem-solving skills.
Communicating With Your Teen
Understanding your own emotions is the foundation for becoming a better communicator with your teen. For example, if your teen missed curfew, the first emotion you may go to is anger. But underneath that anger, there may be fear from not knowing where they were or feeling disrespected. Being able to identify those nuances in emotions can help you communicate with your teen how you felt when they missed their curfew. They can begin to understand that you’re not angry for the sake of being angry, and many teens will feel more empathy when you tell them, “I was afraid for you.”, rather than, “I am angry at you.”.
Another part to be aware of, is how we communicate nonverbally. More than our words, tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions convey our feelings. If your teen makes a mistake and you reply with “It’s fine.”, but your tone is sharp and your arms are crossed, you teen knows that it is not really fine. By becoming aware of our tone and mannerisms, we can make sure we are presenting emotional congruence.
Once you feel comfortable communicating your emotions, you can provide the same opportunities for your teen. Teens are more likely to be open with their parents if they don’t feel pressured into sharing information. Sometimes direct questions can feel like too much pressure for teens. Instead, focus on listening. Sometimes even an offhand comment about their day is their way of sharing. It is important to remember that consistency builds trust. On-and-off emotional awareness can cause teens to feel distrustful and put up barriers. That is why keeping your emotional awareness active is crucial.
Red Mountain Colorado Can Help
At Red Mountain Colorado, we know that healing the entire family system is essential to your teen’s long-term success. Our family therapeutic process is designed to help you and your child address underlying problems so that you can get back to being a family again.
Red Mountain Colorado was founded to help struggling teens work through behavioral and emotional challenges. We specialize in the treatment of trauma-related mental health challenges. Throughout programming, we empower teens to build healthy coping skills and habits that they can use to work through the challenges they face. For more information please call (970) 316-7589.