For many of us, one of the most traumatic experiences of our lives was puberty. This is hardly an exaggeration—our bodies are experiencing significant changes and our thoughts are undergoing transformation as well, all while the frontal lobe of the brain is developing and forming our impulses for emotional control.
It is a chaotic time of identity-seeking, between carefree childhood and the assumption of adult responsibilities and relationships. It is an awkward and dramatic phase in our lives, one where emotions careen out of control.
Teenagers and EQ
There can be no more compelling reason for high school aged kids to be taught emotional intelligence than to prepare them for this onslaught of hormones, growth and development coming from their bodies. Emotional intelligence (or EQ) is the ability to understand emotions and how they affect people’s behavior. This is not only understanding of one’s own emotions, but also the capability to understand the emotions of others and interact based on this knowledge. It is an important tool for everyone to develop and maintain, but the skills learned through emotional intelligence can carry adolescents through the rest of their lives.
What Does EQ Do?
Building emotional intelligence skills has an assortment of benefits that comes with it. It teaches an individual to recognize their own emotions, manage them, and express them productively and appropriately. It teaches one how to recognize emotions in others and make predictions about their behavior, wants and needs based on this recognition. This has become a sought-after soft skill in the workplace because it promotes teamwork and understanding, as well as relieves stress, reduces aggression, and promotes concentration.
EQ and Your Teen
Think again about high school, and all the pressures, both social and academic, that come with it. A teenager is already experiencing a whirlwind of feelings due to physical and brain development, and this is multiplied by the emotions and feelings of every person they come in contact with, no matter what age. Because it’s already a tumultuous time due to self-perception and peer pressure, the relief of having the skills to cope with all of this is an invaluable resource. When decisions are made through the understanding of oneself and one’s effect on others, they help teens establish strong bonds and build negotiation skills that last a lifetime.
Better Concentration for Studying
The self-awareness that is central to emotional intelligence is built with practice, and with it comes an increase in the ability to concentrate. Concentration is like a muscle that can be strengthened through exercise, but the exercise in this case is through building one’s ability over time. This type of exercise enables people to work more productively, and for teens that means retaining more of what they study. Better concentration also allows kids to get work done faster, but also more accurately, a trait that will help them tremendously as adults in the workforce.
Being equipped with the tools to identify other people’s emotions gives teens a broader perspective on how to interact with other people. This can help them navigate the often overwhelming mire of peer pressure. Empathy and compassion gained from learning emotional intelligence can be used not only to help others benefit, but can help individuals avoid being coerced into bad choices by the social control of their peers.
Teens with emotional intelligence skills have deep self-knowledge, and are not easily led into deviant behavior because they are aware of effects and consequences. Being compassionate, they can put themselves in others’ shoes and not only assess others with compassion and understanding, but they can avoid harm from others by reading emotions that are violent or deceptive in nature. In a society where 1 in 10 kids are bullied in school, a 60% decrease in suspensions for bullying and an overall drop in aggressive behaviors from applications of EQ is nothing to be ignored.
Where was this this understanding of EQ forty years ago? We ask this a lot about the sophisticated toys we give our kids, or the cell phones and online devices that kids today can’t live without. However, one of the most important advancements of the 21st century isn’t a gadget or a toy. It is emotional intelligence, a set of tools which can not only help them through their tumultuous teenage years, but can benefit them throughout their entire lives.