How to improve emotional intelligence in adolescents?

How to improve emotional intelligence in adolescents?
Emotional intelligence in adolescents is one of the factors that we have to take into account for their education.

The importance of emotional intelligence in adolescents has been known for some time. Already since 1920, certain authors have been claiming the existence of a broader concept of intelligence than we commonly handle. An intelligence that implies the ability to understand ones own feelings and those of others, and know how to act in front of them.

It was from 1995, with the publication of the famous work of Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, that this term began to become popular and gain strength within the collective imagination.

The emotional brain and the rational brain

Emotional intelligence can be better understood by looking at the biological substrate of our human brain. We can observe that the emotional brain developed millions of years before, from it, the neocortex or rational brain emerged.

This explains that, despite being guided by our primary emotional impulses, we have the capacity to make a deeper and more precise processing of situations. This allows us to elaborate and issue more refined and reasoned answers. It is precisely this ability that constitutes the central core of emotional intelligence.

Although the emotional “explosion” is socially accepted in infants and young children, as we grow up we are required to have a greater self-control of our responses. That is, the management of our internal states is a skill that can be learned and trained.

Emotional intelligence in adolescence

Adolescence is a critical stage of our life that presents enormous challenges for our personal development. In these years we began to claim and build our independence, our referents stop being the parents to become the peer group.

To all this complex process of change is added the emotional maelstrom that we experience at the subjective level. This difficulty of intense and unknown emotions that many times we do not know how to approach can complicate the transit through this vital period.

How to develop emotional intelligence in adolescents?
If we want to help our teenagers develop this valuable skill, we must focus on four key points:

Self-knowledge: understand what I feel

The starting point for good emotional management knows how to identify the emotion we are experiencing and being able to name it. Having a rich and varied emotional vocabulary will allow us to better understand the nuances of the concrete feeling that addresses us.

To carry out this task of emotional intelligence with adolescents, we can count on resources such as emotional, or any other similar that helps them sort and put into words their inner world.

Empathy: understanding what the other feels

An essential aspect to develop is the ability to put yourself in the place of the other and understand what feelings or motivations move you. It is important in this step to remember the theory of the attribution of Heider.

According to this theory, when judging the acts of others, we tend to think that they are caused by their personality and we do not take into account the context. Thus, we can affirm, "I shouted to you because I was angry".

However, when it comes to the other, we assume that "he shouted at me because he is a bad person”. We must encourage adolescents to carry out a deeper analysis and reflect on what moves the other person inside.

Self-control: deciding how to act in front of my emotions

We must emphasize at the point the word decide, because it is not about repressing emotion, but about being able to act instead of reacting. There are no good or bad emotions, only useful and useless depending on their consequences.

Therefore, we must encourage young people to be able to overcome the primary impulse and weigh the consequences before taking action. In this way, we teach them to use their emotional states as action guides and to be responsible for their decisions.

Social skills: deciding how to act before the emotions of others

Finally, to help build good emotional intelligence in our adolescents, we must encourage them to use assertive communication.

This communication will allow them to express themselves freely and respectfully and defend their rights without stepping on those of the other. It will also be the key to learning to manage conflicts and find solutions in a peaceful and beneficial way for both parties.