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Developing Your Stoplight: Emotional Regulation Tips for Teens

By Karsten Friske

Emotional regulation begins with emotional recognition.

Long before taking the wheel of a car, the basic rules of the road become clear by watching others navigate the road. Sometimes, watching how others drive is not productive but can be destructive. For adolescents, understanding how to maintain authenticity within a brand new highway of complex emotions can be a difficult journey. During this period of development, it is important to develop your own originality to better understand how you drive on this “highway” and what causes you to become distracted or agitated. To simplify this, let’s categorize the emotional world of an adolescent using a stoplight.

Green: This is you when you are thriving and smiling. 

Reflection question: Think about some of your happiest memories and what you felt during those moments. What about those experiences makes you think of them as a good memory?

Yellow: These are clues for you to slow down (or speed up).
Reflection question: What feelings come up for you when your “buttons” have been pressed? Are there words or actions that set you off or calm you back into your “yellow”?

Red: These are your most problematic responses.
Reflection question: How do you know when you are burnt out? Where do you feel exhaustion in your body?

Now that you have an idea about how an emotional stoplight works, here are a few tips for helping younger loved ones to develop their specific “speed bumps” and “speed ups.”

1. Practice mindfulness in real-time. Knowing how you are feeling in the moment is key to understanding whether a change of direction is needed. When a stressful situation approaches, ask the question, “what light does this fall under?”

2. Begin identifying triggers that prompt a light change. What causes you to move from a red light to a yellow or a green? Creating this self-awareness will help you to make informed decisions on your behavior and bring clarity to the impact of your decisions.

3. Make your stoplight visible! Stoplights on the road do not just exist in your mind, so turning your emotional regulation stoplight into a tangible and visual reminder is important. 

Developing your emotional regulation stoplight is an important step in the journey toward better understanding your emotions. To continue your journey, therapy allows for more personalized attention to develop your emotional regulation and awareness. Our therapists at the Pursuit Counseling are equipped to walk with you through every part of your “stoplight” and would be honored to be part of your Pursuit!

At The Pursuit, a group of experienced therapists have come together to offer best in class counseling services. We prioritize clinical theory, non-judgmental approaches, and effective interventions, treatment plans, and coping skills.

We have therapists who specialize in different areas and we strive to find the best match for your unique needs. Our services cater to individuals, families, and organizations, including adolescents in high school. Our aim is to connect you with the specialist who can best address your concerns.

 Our specialized  counseling services aim to address the underlying emotional wounds that contribute to behaviors. We offer evidence-based  counseling that is effective with working many presenting problems. We provide a holistic approach to recovery, focusing on healing the past to create a healthier future. 

Are you ready to take the first step on your Pursuit towards a happier, healthier you? We invite you to book your free 20-minute consultation with one of our skilled therapists. Don’t wait; it’s time to invest in your well-being. Simply  Book Now to start your Pursuit towards personal growth and positive change today.

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