How Does Your Teenager Express Emotions?
Below are some things to look for:
“The word ______ is used frequently. Tell me why that word was chosen.”
“I noticed the words became really fast and short in this section. Does that represent a fast beating heart? Or racing thoughts?”
“I feel ______ (emotion) reading through your poem. What emotion did you feel while writing?”
“The girl in the poem seems a lot like you. How can you overcome that struggle in your own life?”
If serious themes of death or suicide frequent your child’s poems, and your child struggles to talk to you in a way that eases your mind, then suggest counseling. It may be easier for your teenager to talk to a counselor about feelings, and it may prevent bodily harm or death. Take those conversations seriously.
During college I broke my ankle, which ended my dancing career. Once I was healed enough to dance again, I choreographed a solo routine to express my journey. I performed the routine at a church talent show, and afterwards I cried in my brother’s arms. He was the only one who understood my dance, and his opinion was the only one that mattered.
If your teenager loves to dance, pay attention to their choreography. What emotions are they portraying? What type of music are they dancing to? In high school, a fellow student of mine created a dance routine to Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life.” Her dance, and her song choice, got her message across loud and clear that she was angry at the director and me. She didn’t even need to use words.
Fake Social Media Accounts:
I believe parents should be well aware of their children’s Internet usage, and frequently check their phones. An anonymous online profile can be a place for teenagers to share pent-up emotions. For example, a girl with a low self-esteem who feels lonely may form a fake online persona of glamour and excitement and intrigue. In essence she is creating a world to hide out from her hurtful feelings – not a healthy option! A loving parent can help her learn positive coping skills to successfully navigate adolescence.
This is a no-brainer. The type of music your teenager rocks out to tells you what’s on his/her mind. Pay attention to the iTunes and Spotify playlists. Is there an abundance of love songs, breakup songs, angry songs, teenage angst songs, violence, or sorrow? If you notice a trend, strike up a conversation using the skills I mentioned above.
Parenting through the teenage years can be rough, but it’s vital to stay connected to your kid. They need you during those years, and if you can be a safe landing zone for emotions (happy, sad, and everything in between) then your healthy communication patterns will benefit you all.
Did I miss something? Is there another way to you find your teenage children expressing emotions?