How to Help Teens Deal With Emotions

By Kay Ireland
Make time for you and your teen to talk.
Make time for you and your teen to talk.

Teenagers often have adult emotions, but don't always have grownup responses to those emotions. From love to sadness, happiness to loneliness, you can help your teen navigate the choppy waters of the teenage years when you're in tune with your teen's emotions and feelings. By creating conversations, helping your teen find outlets for her feelings and finding the right medical help, if necessary, the teen years can successfully lead into emotionally healthy adult years.

Make time for you and your teen to have regular conversations. Whether you chat at dinner, talk in the car or have a weekly date for catching up, talking gives your teen an emotional outlet.

Help your teen learn feeling words and "I" statements. When you ask how school's going, help her recognize her part in her emotions. Instead of "Mr. Smith is flunking me because he hates me!" you can encourage statements such as, "I feel like I'm picked on because I have trouble understanding the work." Regular chats like that can help you understand what your teen is really feeling and help her voice her emotions and concerns.

Ask the right questions to get more out of your regular conversations. Teens can sometimes clam up and give short answers to questions along the lines of, "How was your day?" Instead, try "What was your favorite part of the day?" or "What do you like most about that boy you have a crush on?" Your teen might seem embarrassed at first, but it'll help open a channel of conversation between you when she can vent her emotions and talk about what she's facing.

Encourage your teen to participate in activities that let her express herself emotionally. Taking an art class, getting involved in sports, writing in a journal or playing a musical instrument can help her deal with her emotions in a creative way.

Model emotional health for your teen. When you have specific emotions, tell your teen how you're dealing with them. Say, "I'm really stressed, so I'm going to take a walk around the block" or "I'm frustrated with your brother, so we're going to talk." Your teen will learn from your example, so be conscious of what she's learning from the way you deal with your own emotions.

Schedule an appointment with your family doctor if you feel your teen's emotional health is suffering. A lack of motivation, social withdrawal, not caring for people or activities, sadness, a change in grades, weight or appearance, or low self-esteem can all be signs of teen emotional distress, according to Your teen's doctor can refer you to a mental health professional who can help improve your teen's emotional and mental health.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.