Conversations that Build EQ

by | Apr 26, 2023 | Parenting, Teenagers | 0 comments

Now more than ever, teens are unhappy.  Since the pandemic, record numbers of high school students report feeling depressed and anxious. While social isolation and online learning are becoming a thing of the past, teens are still facing extraordinary pressures at school, with peers, and within themselves.  This is especially true for teen girls.  


I have been coaching teen girls and young adult women for over a decade and I’ve heard their struggles. Girls face what’s known as the “Triple Bind” a term coined by author Stephen Hinshaw.  The Triple Bind refers to three conflicting expectations:


  1. Be sweet and nice 
  2. Be a star athlete and straight-A student
  3. Be hot, sexy, and desirable


And, be this “perfect girl” 100% of the time. 


The Triple Bind is real and is one of the biggest sources of anxiety, depression, self-doubt, sadness, and rage.  


One way to shield your teen from the pressures and expectations of the Triple Bind is to build her EQ (Emotional Intelligence).  


Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize emotions, understand their impact on self and others, and use that wisdom to make thoughtful choices.  EQ can serve as a shield and a powerful tool to understand and process the feelings triggered by various pressures and expectations. 


Teens are in a prime stage to develop Emotional Intelligence and parents can help!  Use this guide to start conversations that strengthen the foundational elements of EQ: self-awareness, empathy, emotional regulation, effective communication, and healthy relationships.   As your teen develops each skill, her EQ will strengthen and she will become better equipped to handle the pressures and expectations that come along with being a teen girl.   


Effective Responses and Conversation Starters that Build EQ


Cultivate Self-Awareness

  • When your teen accomplishes something, like earning a good grade or scoring a winning goal, acknowledge the quality behind the accomplishment.  Say: “I admire your _______.” or “That’s awesome you got an A! What do you think that says about you?” 
  • Ask her about her emotions and thoughts, and what triggers certain feelings and ideas. Say: “What are you telling yourself about that situation?” or “What are you telling yourself about yourself? How is that making you feel?” 
  • Suggest she keep a journal or talk with a professional who can help her gain a deeper understanding of herself. 


Build Empathy

  • Anytime your teen is in a situation involving another person, ask her to consider how the other person might feel.  Say: “What do you think she’s thinking about this situation?” or “What do you think is motivating her to act that way? Is something else going on?”  
  • Talk about how body language, tone of voice, and words are clues to how someone else is feeling.  Say: “I noticed she was slouching and kind of hiding herself.  Her voice was low too.  That may mean she’s feeling sad about something. What do you think?” 


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Support Emotional Regulation

  • Show your daughter how you regulate your emotions by responding to her in a constructive way.  Say: “This conversation has triggered me. I  know it’s important for you to have an answer/solution but I don’t want to say something out of anger.  Let me have a moment to clear my head so I can be more fair.”   
  • Model techniques like deep breathing, taking a pause, exercising, journaling, and talking things through with a trusted friend.


Effective Communication 

  • In any conversation with your teen, show you are listening by giving her your full attention. 
  • Validate her feelings.  Say: “It makes sense that you feel that way.” 
  • Show you are listening to understand.  Say:  “What I hear you saying is_______ and you feel_______.  Is that right?” 
  • Respect her boundaries and timing.  Say:  “I understand you need time to process and I know you can figure this out.  If you want to talk about it, just let me know.  I’m here for you.” 


Positive Relationships

  • Talk with your teen about the qualities of a healthy and unhealthy relationship.  Say: “Who do you know who has a really good relationship?  What makes it so good?”
  • Explore the qualities of healthy friendships/relationships.  Say: “What do you value in your friendships/relationship?” “How would you describe a really good friend/boyfriend/girlfriend?” 


Empowering your daughter with the tools of self-awareness, empathy and emotional regulation will help her get through hard times with more ease and optimism.  When she knows how to effectively communicate and build healthy relationships, she is set up to handle conflicting expectations and pressures with strength and confidence.  


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