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Helping Your Tween Overcome Difficult Emotions

As humans we are wired to be guided by emotions.  Generations ago, our ancestors used their “fight or flight” instinct to survive. A saber tooth tiger may not be chasing your family today but, helping your tween learn what their emotions and internal intuitions are communicating can feel just as daunting. Many of us deal with negative emotions by trying to ignore them or living in a negative state without a plan to move forward or channeling it into competition and anger with others. A more empowering option is to learn from our emotions.

In order to learn from our emotions, we need to evaluate them. The following steps will help you have an open and honest conversation with your tween (or yourself).

First, have your child describe the feeling or feelings they are going through so you both can identify the emotion.  Next is to clarify the message of the emotion. What is this specific emotion trying to convey? What is the purpose of that emotion?  Evaluate the emotion from a different perspective and see if it brings new meaning.  How do you perceive the emotion from this point of view?

Then, create options and a plan.  You can dig deeper by asking questions. What is great about this emotion I am currently feeling? What can I learn from this emotion or experience? Once we have the learning or meaning we no longer need to hold onto that emotion. Next ask, instead of this emotion, how do I want to feel? What would I have to believe to get to my desired emotion? What actions would I need to take to feel the emotion I’d rather be feeling?

Build your tween’s confidence up by remembering or have your child identify a time where they felt this emotion or something similar and overcame it. Talk about how that negative emotion was dealt with in the past and remind them they are standing stronger today because of what they learned from the emotion.

Finally, help your tween feel certain and excited they have a clear action plan to move forward and move beyond this emotion. Together you can imagine different ways of handling this emotion and then test them out. See what works and what doesn’t. Each action is a learning experience with your tween.

We hope this process helps lessen the daunting tasks of working with your teen on their emotions. Now if only you can get you tween to put their dish all the way in the dishwasher or tell you in advance of a project deadline instead of waiting until the night before.

Grow, Give, Love, Live,

The Mother & The Daughter


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