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How to Help Teens Manage Their Emotions and Accept Their Feelings

November 16, 2017

We all know that the teenage years come with many challenges. During this phase of life, the brain begins to develop very quickly. This puts the limbic system, a collection of structures in the brain that impacts emotional responses among other things, into either fight, flight, or freeze modes. In such circumstances, the minds of teens can difficulty processing various functions including reason, logic or good judgment. At the same time, there are many things teenagers have to deal with, which can lead to trauma, anxiety or depression. So, it is very important for them to be equipped with the means of coping with these issues.

Teenagers can learn how to develop specific skills that may help them to effectively manage their feelings and the changes they begin to experience. One of the best strategies for doing this is to help them develop the power to identify their emotions. Young people often find it difficult to acknowledge their feelings. This may prompt them to devise defense mechanisms such as blame games, criticism or anger.

It is helpful for young people to permit themselves to have emotions, remain in the moment and ultimately be at ease with their emotions even if it isn’t always comfortable. Expressing their emotions can help them to find a soothing release. Some of the ways of doing so can include writing about their feelings, using art, music or physical activity as a means of expression, crying, or having a conversation with a trusted person in their life.

One method that may help teens to resolve emotional concerns is referred to as the empty chair technique. This cathartic empty chair method is founded on Gestalt theory. When teens go through emotional distress over somebody or a social situation, they can place them into an “empty chair” so to speak. They sit on that chair and assume the role of the other party by saying what he or she would do. Then, the teen can shift back to their own chair and express their feelings to the other party audibly. The goal of this technique is to help teens to fully comprehend the magnitude of the dilemma they are facing.

Kathy Hardie-Williams has an excellent piece on GoodTherapy’s blog.

If you feel your child could benefit from strategies for dealing with their emotions which are tailored to their needs, reach out and contact us today! A trained specialist will be available to help answer your questions and determine an appropriate program for your teen.

Amended December 15, 2020